What If I Fail a Drug Test After a Work-Related Accident?
Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers | Workplace Accidents
If you suffer injuries from a work-related accident, you can seek compensation from the workers’ compensation system. This system allows workers to claim a portion of their medical expenses and lost earnings — no matter who was at fault for the accident. However, there are coverage exclusions for accidents caused by employee intoxication. In other words, you cannot receive workers’ compensation if your own intoxication caused the accident.
For example, your employer might ask you to take a drug test after a slip and fall accident. Even if you fail the test, your workers’ compensation claim might still be valid — it all depends on the facts of your case and Florida workers’ compensation laws. A skilled attorney might increase the chances of a successful workers’ compensation claim.
When Your Employer Can Require You to Submit to a Drug Test
Typically, an employer can test you for drugs:
- Immediately after hiring you;
- Randomly; and
- In response to reasonable suspicion that you might be under the influence of drugs.
Your employer cannot require you to submit to a drug test simply because you suffered an injury during work hours — that is against the law. If this was legal, employers would try to intimidate employees by forcing them to take drug tests after an accident. Mandatory drug testing after an accident is a form of unlawful retaliation.
However, your employer can require you to take a drug test if they have a reasonable suspicion that you might have been under the influence of alcohol or drugs prior to your accident. Read on to learn more.
The Question of Proximate Cause
Even if you fail a drug test, you won’t automatically lose your workers’ compensation claim. Your employer must prove that your intoxication was the primary cause of your accident.
Specifically, your employer must prove the following:
- The quantity of drugs in your system was enough to cause you intoxication;
- You were intoxicated at the time of the accident; and
- Your intoxication was the primary cause of the accident.
You can defeat your employer’s intoxication defense if you prove that the accident would have occurred and your injuries would have been just as serious even without intoxication.
Workers’ compensation is not the best way to resolve all workplace accident claims. If you can identify a third party who is responsible for your accident, you can sue them in court. Unlike a workers’ compensation claim, a personal injury lawsuit can generate non-economic damages, which might increase the amount of compensation you qualify for.
If you fail a drug test, the court might assign a portion of the blame for the accident to you, and deduct the same percentage from your compensation. If you were 25% at fault, for example, the court will deduct 25% from your compensation, leaving you with only 75%
Can Your Employer Fire You for Drugs in Your Bloodstream?
Yes, your employer can fire you for the presence of illegal drugs in your bloodstream. They can even fire you for the presence of legal drugs that might impair your work performance. It all depends on your company’s work rules. If company policy prohibits drug use, your employer can fire you even if you win your workers’ compensation claim.
Contact a St. Petersburg Workplace Accident Lawyer At Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers for Help
Your accident claim might generate many legal ambiguities. Should you file a workers’ compensation claim or a third-party personal injury claim? Did your intoxication contribute to the cause of the accident? If it did, to what extent should you bear liability for your own injuries?
An experienced workplace accident lawyer can help you answer these questions. Remember, you can bring a lawyer to a workers’ compensation hearing. If you file a personal injury claim against a third party, your lawyer can negotiate a settlement.
For more information, please contact the Clearwater and St. Petersburg workplace accident law firm of Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers at the nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.
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