Yes. Anyone injured at work will get asked to submit to a drug test, even when it is clear that someone else caused the incident that inflicted the injury.
In fact, your employer can probably require you to submit to drug and alcohol testing as a condition of filing an application for workers’ compensation benefits or another type of disability claim. That will depend on what terms you accepted when you took the job and signed the acknowledgment form that includes workplace policies. But even if you are not under contract to submit to blood or urine tests after you get injured on the job, fully expect to be asked to do so.
Laws and regulations allow employers to automatically block workers’ comp claims when injured workers test positive for alcohol or drug use. A company or agency might also have grounds for filing charges when an inebriated employee causes damage or hurts co-workers. Last, anyone injured in an accident caused by someone who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs can file personal injury lawsuits.
What Happens When I Agree to a Drug Test After a Work Injury
This depends on a lot of factors. If you belong to a union, the drug and alcohol testing process are probably spelled out in your collective bargaining agreement. In all cases, when you voluntarily submit to testing, you can request to have a witness present and also request to review the results.
The testing generally takes place within hours of the incident that caused the injury, and it often gets done as part of the emergency room treatment process. Since the blood and urine samples taken for testing constitute evidence in what may become a criminal and civil legal matter, they should be preserved and made available for retesting.
Contacting a Columbus workers’ comp lawyer will help you make sure all proper testing protocols are followed and that the samples are stored properly. Enlisting the advice and representation of an attorney who specializes in handling workers’ compensation cases will also help you collect and preserve reports and other evidence that show your injury occurred when you were at work and engaged in authorized activities.
What Happens if the Drug Test Comes Back Positive?
Any test that indicates alcohol or drug use within a day or so of a workplace accident gives your employers and the workers’ compensation program a legitimate reason for denying an injured employee’s claim. The workers’ comp applicant can appeal that denial, however.
One issue that often comes up and which does offer solid grounds for an appeal is using prescription opioid medications under a doctor’s care. Physically demanding jobs often leave people in pain, and the drugs an individual takes just to make staying on the job possible will show up during screening after a workplace accident. Consulting with a workers’ comp attorney will help an injured employee understand whether his or her drug and alcohol tests can be challenged on this or other grounds with any hope of success.
Gregory R. Mitchell is a worker’s compensation attorney in Cleveland and partner at Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman represents clients in workers comp appeal hearings.