Following a workplace injury, employers are allowed to request a drug screening if they have ‘reasonable suspicion’ that you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol when your injury occurred.
The Colorado Supreme Court has upheld these ‘reasonable suspicious’ provisions in the state’s workers’ comp laws. If your employer suspects the influence of illicit drugs or alcohol, they can require a drug test. Other states require a test outright but not Colorado.
If the test comes back positive, the employer can then claim ‘presumption of intoxication’ and reduce benefits (…excluding medical) by 50%. An employee can request a re-test at their expense.
Drug or alcohol use on-the-job doesn’t necessarily absolve the employer from a workers’ compensation claim.
Part of the basis of workers’ comp laws lie in the fact that an employer cannot be sued by an employee for negligence and so forth. In exchange, employees receive guaranteed medical care and wage loss benefits in the event of an injury – all regardless of fault.
So while intoxication or drug use can reduce wage loss benefits can cause a worker to lose any potential separation benefits, the employer still has certain legal obligations because of this ‘no-fault’ stipulation.
Testing positive for drug or alcohol usage following a work injury may put any potential unemployment benefits at risk though. They can be restored though if the worker attends counseling for alcoholism and drug addiction.
In the end, if your employer has reasonable suspicion you were intoxicated when injured, they can require a drug screening. And while it isn’t good from many perspectives, testing positive doesn’t disqualify you from being treated for your injuries.
If your employer or their insurer has claimed otherwise, Denver workers’ comp attorneys at the Babcock Law Firm can help you obtain your rightful benefits. Call our office today for a free consultation.