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Woman with positive drug test receives workers' compensation

Employers and insurers often try to find ways to make smaller workers' payments. With that said, they will try to find ways to weaken your claim if you're injured at work. One woman was denied part of her benefit after suffering a workplace injury because she tested positive for drugs. However, a court ruled that the woman is still entitled to the full benefit. Illinois workers injured on the job should be made aware of all their rights when it comes to compensation claims.

The woman was working as a server at a restaurant when she tripped over a box of potatoes and broke her wrist. She was taken to the hospital for treatment and a drug test was administered, in accord with the employer's policy. After the test came back positive for marijuana and Xanax, the employer and insurance company denied the woman any benefit beyond what was necessary to cover the emergency room expenses.

An initial ruling determined that intoxication, due to the drugs, did not contribute to the accident. Additionally, the judge did not see the Xanax as an issue because the medication was prescribed for pain. This decision that granted the woman temporary disability payments in addition to medical expense coverage and her employer appealed the ruling. An appeals court decision maintained the earlier decision, stating that it could not be proven that intoxication contributed to the woman's fall.

Sometimes work-related accidents involve a convoluted set of circumstances, but that was not necessarily the case for this injured restaurant server. She and other employees were forced to work around the box of potatoes that cause her to fall. There was no reason to believe that any other factors contributed to the accident.

It's often hard to know exactly what rights you have in situations such as this. As such, this case indicates the importance of having knowledgeable legal representation when dealing with workers' compensation. If you're ever wondering if you have a claim to receive benefits for injuries sustained at your place of work, it is a good idea to seek professional advice.

Source: Business Insurance, "Injured worker entitled to comp benefits despite positive drug test: Court," Roberto Ceniceros, Feb. 3, 2012

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Hannigan & Botha, Ltd.
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