Premier Workers' Compensation And
Personal Injury Representation

What happens when an injured worker fails a drug test?

On Behalf of | Mar 26, 2024 | Workers' Compensation |

Several things often occur in rapid succession when someone gets hurt on the job. Most companies have clear policies that require immediate response to an incident on the clock. A supervisor likely puts together a report after talking to the worker and other witnesses. Some people can receive immediate care at work if there is a medical office, but often workers have to go to a hospital if the injury is serious.

The injured worker likely leaves to seek out medical treatment. Physicians responding to work injuries often also follow very specific protocols. The evaluation process that begins when a worker seeks out medical care after an injury on the job often involves a drug or alcohol test. Workers may worry that they could fail that test. Even someone who was sober on the job could have unfavorable drug test results, as certain substances remain detectable for weeks after people use them.

Does a California employee seeking workers’ compensation benefits need to worry about losing their coverage if they fail a drug or alcohol test?

A failed test does not eliminate benefit eligibility

One of the most pervasive myths about workers’ compensation is the claim that anyone who tests positive for drugs or alcohol faces immediate disqualification for coverage. Sometimes, healthcare professionals or coworkers may even repeat that myth as though it were fact after an incident at work.

Employees may then feel as though they cannot file a claim for benefits. However, state law in California recognizes the limits of drug and alcohol testing. A failed test does not automatically terminate someone’s eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits.

Workers can still obtain benefits if they can show that impairment wasn’t the underlying cause of their injury. If chemical intoxication was not the proximate cause of the workplace incident, then the employer may not be able to justify denying someone benefits. Cases involving failed drug tests sometimes require extensive documentation, appeals or litigation to resolve.

Those facing complex workers’ compensation claims often need support when they pursue benefits. Learning more about the rules for California workers’ compensation coverage, and seeking legal guidance accordingly, may help those struggling with the impact of an on-the-job injury and who are worried about their eligibility for benefits.

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