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If I Get Injured at Work and Fail My Drug Test, Can I Still Get Workers’ Compensation in Indiana?

Jun 10, 2022 | Workers' Compensation

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After a workplace injury, your employer might require that you undergo a drug test to evaluate whether you were impaired at the time of the accident. This falls under the Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illness ruling that passed in 2016.

The law states:

“The final rule does prohibit employers from using drug testing (or the threat of drug testing) as a form of adverse action against employees who report injuries or illnesses. To strike the appropriate balance here, drug testing policies should limit post-incident testing to situations in which employee drug use is likely to have contributed to the incident, and for which the drug test can accurately identify impairment caused by drug use.”

Therefore, it really depends on the situation. Regardless of whether your employer requests a drug test before approving your workers’ compensation claim, you should seek professional legal advice before discussing the matter with your employer, their insurance company, or submitting to a drug test.

Indiana Employment Law Concerning Drug Testing

No federal law prohibits an employer from drug testing or outlines when it is appropriate to require that an employee complete a drug test. Each state can make laws concerning employment regulations and drug testing. However, Indiana does not have any laws that prohibit employers from requiring drug tests in various situations.

However, in some rare circumstances, employers can overstep their bounds and find themselves in legal trouble when requiring that an employee submits to a drug test. These include:

  • Discrimination against those with disabilities who require controlled substances to manage their illness, such as legally prescribed opiates to treat a disability
  • An employer that only requires drug testing from certain groups of people, such as all people within a specific race or age group
  • Invading the employee’s privacy by requiring a urine sample in front of someone else
  • Announcing publicly or sharing with other employees when someone tests positive for drug use when the employer knows the tests were somehow inaccurate

Positive Drug Test as an Affirmative Defense for Not Providing Workers’ Compensation Benefits

The Indiana Workers’ Compensation Board recognizes drug testing and intoxication as an affirmative defense for an employer to not provide workers’ compensation benefits. However, the burden of proof rests entirely on the employer and a positive drug test is not enough to deny employee benefits.

The employer must use the positive drug test to prove that intoxication was the proximate cause of the employee’s injury. A positive drug test does not prove that the accident was caused by the employee’s intoxication. Additionally, a positive drug test does not show that the employee was intoxicated at the time of the injury or that the intoxication caused the injury.

Therefore, an employer generally cannot deny worker’s compensation benefits on the grounds of a positive drug test, but the drug test might provide grounds for the employer to prove that drugs or alcohol were involved in the injury.

Another concern that an employee who tests positive for drugs would be job termination. While the employer cannot terminate an employee who files a workers’ compensation claim out of retaliation, the employer can fire the employee for being intoxicated while on the job.

Call for a Free Consultation

Workers’ compensation situations are often complex and involve many layers. Some even include third-party liability due to faulty machinery or other individuals or organizations failing to look out for your wellbeing on the job.

To protect your finances and employment, schedule a free consultation with Stewart & Stewart to learn your workers’ compensation rights. We’ll help you learn more about your liability in various scenarios and how to work with your employer and the insurance company to protect your benefits.

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