Most workers’ compensation claims are straightforward because the system provides no-fault coverage. A California worker doesn’t need to show that their employer violated safety statutes, and companies can’t fight a worker getting benefits just because someone caused their own injury by accident.
Workers can rely on medical coverage and wage replacement after they make an approved benefits claim. Not everyone has a straight path to benefits. Workers who fail a drug test may worry that they will not be able to receive the benefits that they would otherwise qualify for through workers’ compensation.
Does failing a drug test automatically mean you won’t get the benefits you request?
California has a nuanced approach to drug testing results
Typically, a worker would need to have intentionally caused their own injury or violated company policy for their employer to justify challenging their workers’ compensation claim. There are also sometimes disputes related to the severity of someone’s injury or the true origins of their medical condition.
In a scenario where you definitely got hurt at work but then you failed the drug test, your employer would need to prove two important points if they want to deny your claim. First, they will have to provide evidence that you were intoxicated on the job. Then, they also have to credibly show that your intoxication is the true cause of your injury.
Someone who works as a bartender and occasionally enjoys a drink purchased by a satisfied patron might fail a test because of the alcohol in their bloodstream. However, if their injuries are the result of a drunken patron punching them in the face or a shelving unit suddenly collapsing and dropping something on their head, the alcohol that they consumed would have zero bearing on the injuries that they suffered.
In other words, an injured worker who fails a drug test or has detectable levels of alcohol in their bloodstream at the time that they seek medical treatment can still potentially qualify for workers’ compensation benefits in many cases. Those facing complicated claims may need outside help. Many people think that they can file their own workers’ compensation claim and then eventually realize that they need professional help.
Both workers worried about pushback from their employers and those already in need of an appeal may benefit from legal representation well during the claim process. Learning more about the rules that apply to workers’ compensation benefits in California can help you secure the support you need after an injury on the job.