Workers’ Comp Drug Test: What Happens If You Fail?

If you get hurt while on the job, a type of insurance coverage called workers’ compensation will be available to you. It’s put in place to protect both workers and their employers in the case of workplace injuries. The system itself is one of no-fault. This means you don’t need to prove negligence to receive benefits from your illness or injury. There are a few exceptions to this rule. There are cases where you may get denied workers’ comp if you fail a drug test. This is when a workers’ comp drug test becomes an issue.

If received injuries while on the job and have questions about your specific case, we can help. At Jones Legal, Inc, we’re mindful about how legal issues can impact your life. Our attorneys will fight for you and your rights every step of the way. Give us a call at 951-742-7213 to discuss the details of your case.  

Do I Have To Take A Drug Test If I Get Hurt At Work?

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), using drug testing to discourage employees from reporting incidents is a violation of the law. This means that it is illegal for an employer to have a policy in place that mandates automatic drug testing after an accident.

This doesn’t mean that employers cannot under any circumstance drug test employees. Employers may still conduct drug tests for other reasons. New hire, random testing, and reasonable suspicion can still occur at the employer’s discretion. 

However, there cannot be a policy set in place that makes it mandatory to submit to a drug test after a workplace accident or injury. Drug testing should only occur if there is strong reason to believe that drug use contributed to the accident. The employer must have an “objectively reasonable basis” for issuing the test. 

If you feel your employer is unrightfully issuing a drug test, you may be a victim of retaliation. A workers’ compensation attorney can help you determine if your employer is discriminating against you. 

Is A Drug Test Required For Workers’ Comp?

Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, so if you’re injured on the job, you don’t need to provide proof. There is no state that requires employers to drug test their employees following an accident. Some employers may not even bother requiring a drug test following a workplace accident. They may not want to pay for testing or wait for a test to become available. It is up to them if they want to administer a workers’ comp drug test. 

However, if an employer suspects that drugs were a direct cause of the accident, they may request a screening. 

There are states that have laws that may disqualify the injured party from workers’ comp if the drug use caused or contributed to the accident. California’s Labor Code provides an intoxication defense. Section 5705 of the Code states that the burden of proof rests on the employer to prove the intoxication of his or her employee. Not only that, but that the intoxication is what caused the accident in the first place. 

Even if an employer requests a drug test and the employee fails, that isn’t the final verdict. It is up to a judge to determine if the intoxication defense will play into the injured employer’s eligibility for workers’ comp benefits. 

How Long Does Workers’ Comp Have To Drug Test?

If the employer wishes to perform a drug screening, it’s in their best interest to do so as soon after the accident as possible. Drugs can have different windows of detection depending on the type of substance and the amount that is in the body. Waiting too long can lessen the accuracy of the results. The general rule for drug testing following an accident is 12 hours after its occurrence. 

What Happens When You Fail A Drug Test For Workers’ Comp?

Even if you were not impaired at the time of your workplace accident, you may still have traces of the drug in your system. If you consented to a drug test following an injury and you failed, don’t stress out too much. Remember, failing a drug test does not mean you’re ineligible for workers’ compensation. 

However, that also doesn’t mean you’ll get off scot-free. Despite the fact that marijuana is now legal in California, it is still illegal at the federal level. In the case that you test positive for having marijuana in your system, your claim is still valid but may be jeopardized in some manner. This is because it leaves room for scrutiny and possible backlash from your employer and their insurance company. They may try to claim that your accident was a direct result of the substance being in your system, even if that’s not the case.

For your employer to disqualify you from receiving workers’ comp benefits, they must prove two things. This includes:

  1. The drug test can positively identify impairment caused by drug use.
  2. The drugs in your system were the primary cause of the accident that resulted in injury. 

It can be easy to prove that there were illegal substances in your system by use of a drug test. However, it is much harder to prove that these substances directly caused your accident. More often than not, insurance companies will end up paying the compensation claim regardless. 

Can I Get Fired After Failing A Drug Test?

The Occupational Safety and Health Act prohibits retaliation against employees who report a work-related injury or illness. The Act makes it illegal to discriminate or fire an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim. 

Employers still have the right to maintain a drug-free work environment if they choose. If they choose to fire you over a failed drug test, that is up to them. But they cannot fire you for filing a claim and expect you not to have access to the benefits you’re entitled to. If they do fire you for drug use following a workplace injury, they’re still required to pay your workers’ compensation. 

Contact Jones Legal, Inc. Today

The workers’ compensation system is one of no fault. However, if you’ve failed a workers’ comp drug test, employers and their insurers might try to deny your claim and your benefits. If this is the case, you need an experienced professional to handle your compensation case. Contact us at Jones Legal, Inc. today to make sure you’re properly compensated for your work injury. Our mission is to provide clients with strong advocacy that brings stellar results. Call us for a free consultation at 951-742-7213 or visit our website to fill out an online intake form.