Tips For Overcoming An Intoxication Defense In Workers’ Comp

Tips For Overcoming An Intoxication Defense In Workers’ Comp

It only takes one positive test of intoxication for an injured employee’s workers’ compensation claim to be derailed. If an employer/insurer can show that an employee was intoxicated at the time of the injury and that the intoxication caused or contributed to that injury, they can lawfully deny that employee medical treatment and income benefits. This could mean the difference between an injured worker having access to the treatment needed to fully recover from their injuries or being left permanently disabled and unable to find meaningful work. Raising the presumption of intoxication is easy and every employer/insurer uses it to deny workers’ compensation claims. Rebutting the presumption is where all the “heavy lifting” takes place. Below are a few tips for overcoming an intoxication defense.

Review & Analyze Post-Accident Drug Test

Typically, an employer/insurer will raise the presumption of intoxication after the injured employee undergoes a post-accident drug test. It is vitally important that this evidence is carefully reviewed and analyzed. This means reviewing when and how the test was administered, the bodily samples used by the test takers (i.e. blood, breath, urine, hair), the chain of custody of the samples, the actual test used, and the reputation of the company that administered the test. For example, in the context of drug testing, a simple “positive” finding without quantifying the level of intoxication is more easily rebutted than a blood test which provides more details of active intoxicants.

Consult Your Own Expert

In cases like this, it is always best practice to consult with an expert toxicologist. Their expertise regarding the effects of drugs, chemicals, and other substances in the body is crucial in determining whether the drug/alcohol test taken by the injured worker is valid and whether the test results clearly show intoxication. Expert testimony is crucial to rebutting the presumption of intoxication raised by a positive drug test.

Gather Eyewitnesses

By all measures, the most effective way to rebut the presumption of intoxication is to provide eyewitness testimony that the claimant was not impaired at the time of the accident. Anyone who came in contact with the injured employee before and/or after the accident and can attest to their sobriety prior to the accident should be located, interviewed and deposed.

As a seasoned workers’ compensation attorneys, Catherine Manavi and Bobby Johnson have years of experience navigating the tricky waters of intoxication defenses. Call today and schedule your free case evaluation.


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