"You can read it as saying that a workers' comp injury has to be a physical harm related to an unexpected incident at work or the cause of which was unseen. If that's the case, this decision breaks the grand bargain that was struck in 1912 between Arizona workers and Arizona industry. The court doesn't seem to appreciate how destabilizing that could be," said workers’ comp attorney Laura Clyme. (Credit: Big54/Adobe Stock) “You can read it as saying that a workers’ comp injury has to be a physical harm related to an unexpected incident at work or the cause of which was unseen. If that’s the case, this decision breaks the grand bargain that was struck in 1912 between Arizona workers and Arizona industry. The court doesn’t seem to appreciate how destabilizing that could be,” said workers’ comp attorney Laura Clyme. (Credit: Big54/Adobe Stock)

A 6-1 Arizona Supreme Court majority concluded that workers’ compensation coverage for mental illnesses must arise from “unexpected, unusual or extraordinary stress” and that such limitations are not unconstitutional for those already employed in high-stress jobs, like first responders.

However, Laura Clymer, counsel for a Tucson police officer who was denied compensation for his claim of job-induced post-traumatic stress disorder, said it’s unclear whether the court’s opinion simply reaffirms the state Legislature’s right to limit workers’ compensation benefits or “takes our workers’ compensation law back 90 years by narrowly defining what an ‘injury’ and ‘accident’ are.”

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Allison Dunn

Allison Dunn is a reporter on ALM's Rapid Response desk based in Ohio, covering impactful litigation filings and rulings, emerging legal trends, controversies in the industry, and everything in between. Contact her at [email protected] On Twitter: @AllisonDWrites.

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