We all know the general rules we must follow when at work. We need to make sure we are at work on time; that we get our work completed; we don’t sexually harass or fight with other employees; and we do not show up to work intoxicated. But what happens if we are intoxicated at work and we suffer a work-place injury? Will Worker’s Compensation cover those injuries? Florida law takes a strict approach to drug use in the workplace. As a general rule, if you are found to have been intoxicated when the workplace injury occurred you will not be compensated for those injuries. This is because it will be presumed that your injury was caused by intoxication.
The next question then becomes how does your employer know if you were intoxicated? Similar to other states, Florida has a drug-free workplace program that employers may participate in so as to receive discounts on their insurance premiums. This program requires employers to drug test all new employees. It also allows the employer to require the injured worker to undergo drug testing after the accident. If the drug test comes up positive, then there will be a presumption that the injury occurred due to the intoxication, and your claim will be denied.
If your employer does not participate in the drug-free workplace program they can still require you to undergo drug testing after the accident. The only difference is that the burden of proof in discounting a positive drug test is a lot less than if the employer participated in the program.
If you are already receiving Worker’s Compensation benefits, your employer has the right to stop those benefits in the case of a positive drug test result. Of course, the best practice is to abstain from all drug and alcohol use as it relates to your employment. But if you do find yourself in one of these two situations, either from the initial injury or after you start receiving benefits, it is best to contact a West Palm Beach worker’s compensation attorney to see if anything can be done to secure your benefits.