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Does failing a drug test mean someone can’t get workers’ comp?

Mar 28, 2023 | Workers' Compensation

When people get hurt at work, they are often empowered to apply for workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ compensation in Pennsylvania provides wage replacement and medical benefits for eligible employees who have been hurt on the job or diagnosed with a medical condition that resulted from their employment.

However, not every applicant gets the benefits that they need, at least not right away. Sometimes, their employer may challenge their claim because they don’t want to have to pay increased insurance premiums later. Claims that a worker hurt themselves on purpose or that they suffered an injury elsewhere might interfere with their request for benefits.

Employers may also challenge someone’s benefits claim if they fail a drug test after their injury. Does a failed drug test automatically prevent someone from securing workers’ compensation benefits?

A drug test can complicate a claim

The type of drug that someone tests positive for and the circumstances of their injury will have a major impact on whether or not failing the drug test will affect their benefits claim. For example, someone could fail a test if they used marijuana weeks ago, but alcohol would only show up for hours after consumption.

Employers may attempt to deny claims based on a failed drug test, and the courts may end up involved to resolve the dispute between the employer and the worker. If the employer can prove that someone was impaired at work, that is only part of the process of denying them benefits.

Typically, they will also need to convince the courts that the applicant’s injury was a direct result of their chemical intoxication. There is a burden of proof in disputed claims that falls on the employer, which means that workers may be able to get benefits even if they fail a drug test.

Contested claims often require support

The average person could easily make a mistake with their paperwork or in the claims process that will delay their benefits or make it harder for them to receive any compensation whatsoever. Those who partner with an attorney during a workers’ compensation claim will have an easier time achieving success and will have the support they likely require to maximize the benefits they receive.

Understanding the rules that might limit someone’s right to workers’ compensation benefits can help those who have been recently hurt on the job to make informed decisions about their options and can inspire them to seek legal guidance whenever necessary.

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