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The use of alcohol or drugs can complicate a workers’ compensation case, but it does not usually prevent an employee from collecting benefits. Whether you are concerned about the prescription your physician gave you for chronic pain or you have a history of recreational drug and alcohol use, this is what you need to know.
Your employer may require you to take a blood or urine test if injured on the job. If company policy mandates drug testing after a workplace accident, you may not have the ability to refuse the test. An individual can test positive for certain drugs without being physically impaired. A positive result does not automatically bar an employee from securing benefits.
To disqualify an employee from claiming benefits, an employer would need to prove that the employee was impaired at the time of the accident and that the drugs or alcohol in his or her system were the primary cause of the incident.
If you test positive because you were on a prescribed medicine but were not taking more than the prescribed dosage, you can still collect workers’ compensation benefits. An employer must follow strict testing guidelines for a blood or urine test to hold up in court. Any violation of an employee’s rights or uncertified testing may render the results invalid in a workers’ compensation claim.
In the state of California, privacy laws protect employees from random or unexpected drug testing. An employer needs to have a realistic reason for testing and use fair measures. The type of job and substance and the circumstances all play a role in when and how an employer handles the situation.
Most employers do not have any reason to question an employee’s legal or illegal substance use until the substance starts to interfere with daily work. For example, over-the-counter sleeping pills have a range of effects on users. Some individuals can take one every night and feel refreshed and ready for work the next morning. Other users may experience extreme drowsiness or impairment well into the next day. An employer may have a valid reason to test an employee who demonstrates impairment during the workday.
An employee trying to obtain workers’ compensation benefits may need to address allegations of intoxication before the claim can move forward. There are several ways to refute the findings of a drug or alcohol test:
Testing positive for drugs or alcohol may present an obstacle during a workers’ compensation claim, but it is very unlikely that it will prevent a successful settlement. In some cases, it may reduce the amount of total benefits you can collect. If you are concerned about the results of a drug or alcohol test after a workplace injury, consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
At DiMarco Araujo Montevideo, we understand the complexities of privacy and alcohol and drug testing in workers’ compensation cases. We know what an employer needs to present legitimate evidence against an employee, and are prepared to investigate your case fully. If another factor caused your accident, having alcohol or drugs in your system should not affect your ability to collect fair compensation. For more information, contact us today for a free case evaluation.