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Case of former officer tests limits of workers' compensation laws

Arizonans may remember the controversy in another state involving a clash between campus police and university student protestors participating in the 2011 "Occupy" movement. Several officers were either disciplined or fired after several protestors were sprayed with pepper spray during a protest.

Now, one of the officers who was fired has filed a workers' compensation claim against his former employer, saying that he suffered a "psychiatric injury" in connection with the protests. If his claim is successful, then the officer may receive up to $270 a week, possibly for the rest of his life.

How the officer was injured is not clear, and some may find this claim problematic given that it was the officer who allegedly pepper-sprayed the students. Still, the officer has yet to tell his story to those who will decide his claim, and it is important to reserve judgment until all of the evidence is heard.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the university disputes his claim but has indicated that it will participate in good faith in a mandatory settlement conference scheduled for later this month.

Psychiatric injuries are difficult to prove by their very nature because they usually do not manifest themselves physically. While workers' compensation benefits in Arizona are available for a wide range of injuries, an employee or former employee still must prove that he or she is, in fact, injured. Doing so in this case will probably take considerable investigation and thought.

The man will probably require the services of an experienced workers' compensation attorney that will see his claim to a hopefully successful conclusion.

Source: The Daily Californian, "Former lieutenant in UC Davis pepper-spray incident files workers' compensation claim," Stephanie Petrillo, July 30, 2013

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