Can You Lose Workers’ Compensation for Testing Positive for Drugs in Florida?
If you tested positive for drugs following a workplace accident, you might worry that you can lose your workers’ compensation benefits. But can you actually be denied workers’ comp over a drug test in Florida?
Florida’s No-Fault Workers’ Compensation System
Under Florida’s workers’ compensation law, most employers must provide workers’ compensation benefits to their employees who sustain on-the-job injuries or are diagnosed with work-related illnesses.
Workers’ compensation benefits reimburse the injured employee for his or her medical bills and lost wages due to injury or disease. Florida utilizes a no-fault workers’ compensation system, which means employees cannot be denied coverage if their own negligence or carelessness contributed to the injury. Also, “no-fault” means that the worker is not required to prove that their employer was at fault to obtain benefits.
How Does Drug Use Affect Workers’ Comp in Florida?
However, there is an exception to the general rule: an employee can be denied workers’ compensation benefits if he or she tests positive for drug use.
If a worker is suspected of drug use, their employer can order a test to determine whether or not the employee’s injury was caused by drug use. The drug test can only be ordered if the employer has reason to believe that the workplace injury was “caused primarily” by drug use.
As a rule of thumb, if the worker tests positive for drug use, the employer will presume that the work-related injury was primarily caused by the use of a narcotic, controlled substance, or any mind-altering drug.
Can an Employee Dispute a Positive Drug Test?
Luckily, an employee who tested positive for drug use can dispute the test with the help of a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney. Disputing the drug test will prevent the denial of a workers’ comp claim.
There are several ways an employee can dispute a positive drug test to avoid losing their workers’ compensation benefits in Florida:
- Challenge the validity of the drug test. If the drug test is done in violation of the appropriate testing procedures, the test results may not be admissible in court;
- Argue that a completely sober person would have sustained the same injury under the same circumstances;
- Prove that some other cause that is not related to the drug use was the primary cause of the work-related injury;
- Argue that the drug in their system was a residual of drug use prior to the accident (some drugs remain in the system for days, weeks, or even months).
Can a Worker Refuse a Drug Test Ordered by Their Employer?
There are several legitimate circumstances under which an employer who maintains a drug-free workplace program can request a drug test:
- A worker goes back to work after treatment or rehabilitation following a positive drug test;
- The employer has a reasonable suspicion of the drug use in the workplace; or
- The drug test is routinely scheduled by the employer and constitutes a fitness-for-duty medical examination.
It is critical to consult with an experienced Tampa workers’ compensation attorney or other parts of Florida to determine whether you can refuse a drug test ordered by your employer. Also, talk to our lawyers at Kobal Law to determine the most appropriate strategy to dispute a positive drug test to avoid losing workers’ comp benefits. Call at 813-873-2440 for a case review.