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Marijuana use may not automatically lead to a workers’ comp claim denial

Written by Ankin Law Office

Medicinal marijuana is now available for some Illinois residents. Recently, recreational use has also been legalized in a few states around the country. These new laws have created tension, as any injured workers lawyer in Schaumburg would explain. The laws have also raised numerous issues in non-criminal legal matters, such as workers’ compensation.

Drug use and workers’ compensation claims

In Trent v. Stark Metal Sales, a recent Ohio case, a man was injured in a workplace accident. He tested positive for marijuana, which he stated was ingested weeks prior to the worksite injury. His employer attempted to have the man’s workers’ compensation claim dismissed due to his drug test results. An Ohio appellate court, however, determined that the employee’s injury was not caused by that drug use. As such, the court ruled that the worker’s claim could not be denied based on the drug test.

The state of marijuana laws in Illinois

A Roosevelt University study explains that more than 100 municipalities in Illinois have ordinances which provide lower-penalty options for marijuana possession. The state has also begun a pilot medicinal marijuana program. With these changes, the number of people using this drug for both medical and recreational purposes may rise. This may lead to an increase in the legal issues presented in the Ohio case.

Denials based on positive drug or alcohol tests

According to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, compensation will only be paid for injuries that arose out of and during employment. Any injured workers lawyer in Schaumburg would explain that some employers attempt to deny claims based on drug or alcohol tests. Employers base these denials on the fact that drug and alcohol use is prohibited during work. According to this logic, intoxicated employees are not working at the time of the accident because they are breaking a company rule. Employers therefore conclude that any injuries incurred while workers have these substances in their systems prohibit their claims.

Testing procedures

Employers may test employees for drugs and alcohol. However, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission has issued regulations on how these employee drug tests must be administered. These include the following requirements:

  • Anonymity of the test subject during test procedures
  • Urine and blood collection must be administered by a trained professional
  • The completion of a Chain of Custody form

It may be possible to challenge test results if the IWCC’s requirements are not met. If a workers’ compensation claim denial is based on improperly administered drug tests, it may provide grounds for a successful appeal.

Legal guidance in claims proceedings

Many workers’ compensation claims are complex. When an employer attempts to deny a claim due to a positive drug test, these complications may increase. As such, those who are appealing a denial based on such tests may wish to speak with an injured workers lawyer in Schaumburg. Consulting with an attorney may provide the legal guidance necessary to file or appeal a compensation claim successfully.