Failed Drug Tests
The North Carolina worker’s compensation system allows workers injured on the job to obtain medical and disability benefits regardless of who caused their injuries. However, the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act prevents employees who were injured as a result of their own intoxication from obtaining benefits. Thus, employers often rely on a failed drug test to deny workers’ comp benefits. At the Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC, we have decades of experience helping injured workers navigate the challenges they encounter when seeking workers’ compensation benefits, including those who failed a drug test after an accident.How Do Employers Use Failed Drug Tests to Deny Benefits?
The North Carolina workers’ compensation laws don’t require you to prove someone else was responsible for your injuries and even allow you to obtain benefits when your own negligence caused your injuries. However, you are not entitled to benefits if you were injured in a workplace accident because you were intoxicated. Because of this, it is very common for employers to administer “for cause” or “suspicion-based” drug testing after an employee is hurt in an on-the-job accident. In the event an employee fails the drug test, there is a presumption that they were intoxicated at the time of the accident.
If you fail the drug test, chances are that your employer (or their workers’ compensation insurance company) will deny your claim. However, merely testing positive for drugs is not sufficient to deny your claim. Under state law, an injured worker only loses benefit eligibility if:
- They were intoxicated at the time of the accident; and
- Their intoxication was the cause of their injuries.
Employers often overlook the second element, and workers can even contest the first element.How to Succeed in a Workers’ Compensation Claim Despite a Failed Drug Test
If you were injured on the job and failed a drug test after the accident, do not give up hope on obtaining workers’ compensation benefits. There may still be ways for you to prove that you were not intoxicated or that your injuries were not the result of your intoxication.
There are a few essential things to know about failed drug tests. First, just because you failed a drug test doesn’t necessarily mean that you were “intoxicated.” You may be able to rebut the presumption of intoxication by providing statements from co-workers, supervisors or customers who saw you immediately before the accident and did not notice any signs of impairment. Similarly, it is very helpful if you received medical treatment after the accident and the treating physician did not make any notes indicating you appeared intoxicated.
Even in situations where you cannot dispute the fact that you were intoxicated, you may still be able to obtain workers’ compensation benefits by showing that your intoxication had nothing to do with your injuries. For example, you may succeed in bringing a claim if there is evidence that a piece of machinery broke while you were using it (due to no fault of your own) or that another employee’s mistake caused your injuries.Are You Worried About the Effects a Failed Drug Test Will Have on Your Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Failed drug tests don’t mean you can’t recover workers’ comp benefits. However, if you recently suffered injuries at work and failed a drug test after the fact, it’s best to work with an experienced Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyer, as these claims tend to be complex and contested. At Olsinski Law Firm, PLLC, we’ve assembled a dedicated team of highly experienced attorneys to assist clients with investigating, preparing, and negotiating workers’ comp claims. We also offer free consultations to give you an idea of what to expect throughout the process. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation with a Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyer, give us a call at 704-405-2580. You can also reach one of our Concord workers’ compensation lawyers at 704-918-4747.