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What happens to my worker’s compensation benefits if I fail a drug screening?

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If you are asked to submit to a drug test and it comes back positive, you are not automatically denied worker’s compensation benefits. According to the Guide to Indiana Worker’s Compensation, you may still be entitled to benefits. The rule of thumb is that if “…the employee’s accident was caused by intoxication,” then he or she would NOT be entitled to worker’s compensation benefits. Otherwise, the worker would still be eligible for benefits. The employer has the burden of proving that the intoxication was the proximate cause of the work accident.

Example:

Kenny smoked marijuana before work one day. That same day, while on the job, debris fell on him from the ceiling of the repair shop as he worked at his work station. Kenny required treatment for the resulting injuries he sustained to his head, neck, and shoulders. He voluntarily submitted to a drug test while getting checked out at the hospital. The test came back positive for marijuana.

In this example, it is doubtful that Kenny would be denied worker’s compensation benefits based on the results of the drug test since the drugs could not be held as the proximate cause of his accident and injuries. In other words, Kenny’s head, neck, and shoulder injuries were caused by the falling debris from the ceiling rather than the marijuana.

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