15 Aug What if I fail a drug test for my workmen’s compensation case?
In many states, if an employee fails a drug test as a result of marijuana or a non-prescribed controlled substance, the employee’s worker’s compensation benefits could be cut in half. The statute in Missouri is codified in R.S.Mo. 287.120 and states: “Where the employee fails to obey any rule or policy adopted by the employer relating to a drug-free workplace or the use of alcohol or nonprescribed controlled drugs in the workplace, the compensation and death benefit provided for herein shall be reduced fifty percent if the injury was sustained in conjunction with the use of alcohol or nonprescribed controlled drugs.” An experienced worker’s compensation attorney can fight the potential reduction based on errors committed by the employer or the insurance company in administering the test, however, if the test is valid, the reduction can really harm an employee.
This issue arose in a workmen’s compensation case where an employee was in a state where marijuana was legal. The employee was temporarily in Colorado working as a ski-lift mechanic when he had a work accident that led to his death. Unfortunately for his wife and children, a autopsy performed afterward revealed THC in his system so he failed the drug test and the survivor benefits for the deceased employee’s family was cut in half from $800 a month to $400. Imagine losing your husband and father, losing the income he provided, and then finding out that the money your family needs to get by after this terrible tragedy is going to be a measly $800, which will then be cut in half. Terrible.
The issue is THC can stay in a person’s system for as long as 60 days, so it is even more important for an injured employee who fails a drug test to contact an experienced worker’s compensation attorney to aggressively fight the potential reduction. The portion to fight is the last part of R.S.Mo. 287.120 which states “if the injury was sustained in conjunction with the use of alcohol or nonprescribed controlled drugs.” Whether you agree with the law or not, workers need to know this is something that could affect their settlement should they be injured while working. While some states have an exclusion for medically prescribed marijuana, Missouri is not one of them (yet) and your total compensation and medical benefits could be in jeopardy. Worker’s compensation insurance companies are constantly looking for ways to circumvent worker’s rights and advise their clients (the employers) to immediately drug test employees, sometimes as a workaround to OSHA rules regarding post-incident drug testing.
If you happen to partake in alcohol, drugs or other non-prescribed controlled substances, I encourage you use these items responsibly and not when working to avoid a potential problem during a drug test if an injury arises.
Thanks for reading!
Tarun B. Rana, Esq.
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