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Are robbed employees entitled to workers' comp?

We have at many times in this blog described what types of injuries Arizona workers can sustain to file for workers' compensation benefits. The short answer is that a wide variety of workplace injuries may render an employee eligible for workers' compensation benefits.

An injury need not even be physical before a worker can take advantage of Arizona's no-fault workers' compensation system. An incident that inflicts emotional stress on an employee and may require mental rehabilitation can also qualify for worker's compensation.

To illustrate, in Arizona as in other parts of the country, some types of businesses are naturally more susceptible to robberies. Recently in Tempe, three armed suspects entered a McDonald's and robbed it. Before getting away, the suspects ordered five employees of the McDonald's into the restaurant's storage freezer and locked them in. Fortunately, the employees seem to have been able to escape quickly before they suffered any physical injuries from the extremely cold temperatures.

However, these employees are at least in theory still eligible for workers' compensation in Arizona, assuming they suffered some emotional distress from what was no doubt a traumatic experience.

This is not to say that all types of work-related stress can warrant a workers' compensation claim. Usually, an employee has to experience a specific emotional trauma, like a robbery.

In Arizona, a worker may receive compensation for his or her injuries, even if those injuries are only emotional in nature. As the details of this recent robbery continue to emerge, Arizonians should remember that emotional injuries can also alter a worker's life just the same as a physical injury.

Source: Arizona Daily Sun, "Ariz. McDonald's workers put in freezer in robbery," Nov. 8, 2012

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Jerome, Gibson, Stewart, Stevenson, Engle & Runbeck, P.C., provides experienced representation for workers' compensation cases in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa, Gilbert, Glendale, Peoria, Avondale, Casa Grande, Flagstaff, Prescott, Tucson and Yuma, and throughout Maricopa County, Pima County, Pinal County and Yavapai County, and all of Arizona.

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