What Happens To Your Workers' Comp Claim If You Fail The Drug And Alcohol Test?

If you're injured on the job, your employer is probably going to demand a drug and alcohol test. What happens if you fail the test, but you're sure that the drugs or alcohol had nothing to do with the accident? Should you be barred from collecting workers' compensation benefits because, for example, you have traces of THC (marijuana) in your system on Wednesday, when the last time you smoked any was on Saturday night?

There Is A Presumption That Your Drug Or Alcohol Use Caused The Injury

In most states, there's a legal presumption that automatically blames the drugs or alcohol in your system for your injuries. In order to collect workers' compensation, you have to challenge this presumption and prove that the accident had no relationship to your use of any intoxicating substance.

Is that even possible? Yes, but it isn't always easy to do, and often relies heavily on the facts of your case. A court will generally look to see if:

  • there is any evidence that you were high or drunk on the job.
  • there is any evidence that being high or drunk caused the accident.
  • any evidence that shows the amount of time that elapsed between your accident and your use of drugs or alcohol.

What Can Your Attorney Do To Help Disprove The Idea That Drugs Or Alcohol Led To Your Injury?

If you've been denied workers' compensation benefits due to the presence of drugs or alcohol in your system, you attorney can approach the situation several different ways.

First, your attorney can challenge the results of the drug or alcohol screening. Breathalyzer tests have been shown to be unreliable, confusing things like a high concentration of acetone in the breath (which is a naturally occurring by-product of the metabolism and can be high in some people, especially those with low blood sugar) with alcohol from beverages. Something like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can also cause a false positive

Urine tests are also unreliable when it comes to proving when a person used a drug. All it can prove is the presence of "metabolites" in somebody's system that show a drug entered his or her body at some point prior to the test. In addition. it's estimated that drug tests produce false positives 10% - 30% of the time.

Even if you admit to drug or alcohol use, your attorney can examine the facts of the case to prove that there wasn't any significant relationship between your substance use and the accident.

If your employer has denied your workers' compensation claim due to the use of drugs or alcohol, contact an attorney such as Parker & Frey who can help you right away. That way, you can quickly file your appeal and hopefully get your injuries covered as soon as possible.