Employees who receive an injury while on the job are legally entitled to workers compensation, or workers comp for short. This is a type of insurance set in place to protect both employees and their employers in the event that a workplace accident or injury occurs. Workers compensation provides promised benefits and compensation to all workers without the need to prove fault. However, issues may arise if your employer can prove that your use of drugs was the cause for the accident or injury. To do so, they may issue a workers comp drug test.
It is generally harder to prove that drugs played a direct role in the accident than it is to file a no-fault workers comp claim. If your employer pursues this defense, though, it is possible that a positive drug test will affect your collection of benefits and compensation. That is why it is important to have an experienced workers compensation attorney working to ensure you receive what is rightfully yours. At Gordon & Gordon Law Firm, we help residents all across the Ark-La-Tex get the workers comp payout they deserve. Here, we will attempt to answer all your workers compensation questions as they pertain to drug testing. If you have any further questions, give us a call today at 318-716-HELP.
Is a drug test required for workers comp?
If you become injured while on the job, you do not need to provide proof. This is because the workers compensation system is one of no-fault. There are no states in the U.S. that have laws requiring employers to drug test their workers after an accident. However, there is also no state that prohibits it. Instead, it is up to the discretion of the employer whether or not they want to administer a workers comp drug test following a workplace accident.
There is often the possibility that the employer doesn’t want to pay or wait for a test to come back, so they’ll disregard it altogether. However, if they suspect that drugs were the cause of the accident, it is possible that they would want to request a screening.
Even in the case that an employer requests a drug test from their employer and they fail, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will play into the case. It is up to the presiding judge to determine if the presence of drugs will be a factor in the consideration of the workers comp case.
What happens when you fail a drug test for workers comp?
If you fail a drug test after a workplace injury, you are not automatically disqualified from receiving workers compensation. According to the Workers Compensation Law, only injuries that were a direct result of the drug use or intoxication can eliminate the potential for workers comp. So in the case that you get into a work accident while on drugs or having alcohol in your system, if those aspects were not the cause for the accident, the injury is still compensable.
For example, let’s say you are working on a piece of machinery at work that is defective. You have drugs in your system and an accident occurs where you become injured. Sure, if you were sober at the time the accident might not have ever occurred. But the presence of drugs in your system wasn’t what caused the accident, the defective machinery was. Therefore, your claim for workers compensation remains valid.
How long does workers comp have to drug test?
If your employer does wish to do a drug screening following a workplace accident, it is in their best interest to have it done as soon as possible. This is because there is a different window of detection for substances depending on their type and how much is in your system.
The rule of thumb for administering a drug test is within 12 hours after the accident has occurred. Waiting longer can lessen the accuracy of the results by a significant amount.
Can I get fired after failing a drug test?
The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) forbids employers from retaliating against reporters of a work-related illness or injury. The law prohibits employers from acting out against their employees who’ve filed a workers compensation claim. Under the protection of this act, retaliation, including discrimination and termination, is illegal.
This doesn’t mean that you’re completely safe from termination after a failed drug test. Employers and entire industries have the right to establish and maintain a drug-free workplace. If you do happen to fail a drug test, your employer still has the ability to fire you. If they fire you right after an accident occurs, you may have a case for workers compensation retaliation. They simply can’t fire you assuming they won’t have to respect your claim and pay you the compensation you deserve.
Do I have to take a drug test if I get hurt at work?
The OSHA makes it illegal for employers to use drug testing to discourage employees from filing a claim. Thus, having a policy that requires automatic drug testing following an accident is a violation of this act. However, an employer may still conduct drug tests at their own discretion for other reasons. This may be part of a new hire background check, random or scheduled company-wide testing, or reasonable suspicion.
If you’re involved in an accident at a work site, this is not reason enough for your employer to subject you to a drug test. There must be an “objectively reasonable basis” to conduct a screening. This means that only if there is a strong reason to believe that the use of drugs or narcotics directly contributed to the accident can an employer require a test.
Forcing a drug test on an employee without reasonable suspicion may be a form of workers compensation retaliation. If you feel that your boss is unlawfully issuing you a drug test following an accident, you need to hire a workers compensation attorney ASAP.
Contact Gordon & Gordon, Shreveport Workers Compensation Lawyers
Though workers compensation is a no-fault system, a failed drug test could result in employers and their insurers attempting to deny your claim and benefits. To be sure this doesn’t happen, you need skilled workers compensation lawyers Gordon & Gordon on top of your case. It can be both painful and upsetting to receive an injury that prevents you from working. Don’t let it cost you more than it needs to. At Gordon & Gordon, we don’t charge any lawyer fees unless we are able to get you a settlement. Call our offices today at 318-716-HELP or visit our website and leave us a message regarding your case here.