It’s a fair assumption that if you get injured at work, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance will cover the cost of your medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses associated with your injury.
However, a significant percentage of Virginia workers’ compensation claims get denied for a variety of reasons, including a failed drug test.
The good news is that even though your claim may be initially denied if you test positive for an unprescribed controlled substance, you may still be able to receive compensation for your injuries.
In this article, we’ll outline three reasons you can still get workers’ comp even if you failed a drug test.
Reason 1: Your Employer Has to Prove that You Failed Your Drug Test
Though proving you failed a drug test may seem relatively straightforward, there are several factors that can call the validity of a drug test into question. There are also legal procedures your employer has to follow to ensure the admissibility of your drug test results.
For example, your test has to be administered by a SAMHSA-certified lab. Short for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, this organization is a government agency subject to federal regulations. Failing to utilize a lab with this certification can nullify your test.
Reason 2: Your Employer Has to Prove that You Were Intoxicated at the Time of the Incident
In addition to showing that you test positive for a controlled substance, your employer also has the burden of proving that you were intoxicated at the time the incident occurred. This can be difficult because drugs can stay in the body’s system for several days.
For example, if your employer conducts a urine test, you could test positive for marijuana days or weeks after inhaling. With a drug like Valium, it could show up on a drug test up to ten days later. While your employer (and the workers’ compensation insurance company) may be quick to assume that you had been under the influence at the time the accident occurred, a drug test alone is likely not enough to prove intoxication.
In order for the connection to be made between drugs and your workplace injury, there will need to be an analysis of the concentrations of the substance in your body at the time of the test.
Reason 3: Your Employer Has to Prove that Your Intoxication Was the Cause of Your Injury
Even if your drug test is positive and it can be shown that you were under the influence of a substance at the time of the accident, your claim may still be successful.
If you can show that your intoxication had no bearing on the incident itself, then you may still be eligible for benefits. For example, if you were drunk on the job (not something we condone), and a defective piece of equipment injured you, then it was the faulty machine, not your intoxication, that caused your injury.
Though your employer may try to argue that you would have noticed the defect or acted differently if you were sober, the fact remains that the machine was the proximate cause of your injury.
Contact a Workers’ Compensation Attorney for Help
While it’s true that a positive drug test often results in an automatic denial of Virginia workers’ compensation benefits, you still have several ways to be successful in your claim. Contact Geoff McDonald & Associates for help. Our firm has a successful track record of helping employees win workers’ compensation cases. We offer free consultations to discuss the incident and explore your various options.