Post Injury Drug Testing and Texas Workers' Compensation
Some companies want their injured employees to submit to drug testing immediately after an accident has taken place. They do so to eliminate intoxication as a cause of the accident, which may preclude an employee from seeking workers’ compensation benefits. Federal laws require federal employees and workers in certain industries, like those who must work under Department of Transportation rules, to automatically have a drug test after an accident.
Do I Have to Take a Post Injury Drug Test in Texas?
You do not have to submit to a drug test after you have been injured in an accident on the job. Unless you are in a federal job, you can reject a drug test and still claim workers’ compensation benefits. However, your employer is within his or her right to discontinue your employment at the company or take other measures if you do not agree to take the test.
The Nuances in Drug Testing and Texas Workers’ Compensation Laws
In 2014, a workers’ compensation case featured an electrician who was burned during the course of work. A post-injury drug test confirmed that the employee had cocaine in his system, and the employee admitted as much. However, a drug test alone is sometimes not enough evidence to prove that a worker was under the influence at the time an accident took place. In this case, the insurance company failed to successfully establish a link between the illegal drug use and the timing/cause of the accident, so the worker was still eligible for benefits. If the insurer had been able to prove the employee was intoxicated at time, he would not have received benefits.
Appealing Test Findings
If you do agree to a drug test and test positive, you do not have to accept the test results. You can appeal the findings and request an additional testing. Under federal law, drug testing professionals are required to split a sample. Ask for a re-test of the remaining sample if you believe your test results have been unfairly represented.
Injured Employees May Not Be the Only Once Asked to Submit to a Test
Anyone involved in an on-the-job accident may be asked to take a drug test if a company believes alcohol or drugs may have been involved. Although you can always refuse to take the test, you may be relinquishing your employment status by doing so. You should be given a fair opportunity to explain yourself and the circumstances of the accident before your employer takes disciplinary action regarding a drug test. If your employer does not, you may want to consult a work injury attorney about taking legal action for workplace discrimination.
Do Prescription Drugs Count?
Employers may test for prescription drugs in addition to alcohol and illegal substances. Being under the influence of a drug that may interfere with your ability to successfully perform your duties at work may be enough to preclude you from receiving workers’ compensation benefits if the insurance company can prove you were cognitively or physically impaired by the medication at the time the accident took place.
Should I Submit to a Post Injury Drug Test?
If you know you haven’t had any substance in your system, you may choose to submit to a drug test to expedite the benefits process and satisfy the requirements of your employment. If you have had illegal drugs, prescription drugs, or alcohol in your system during the day or the evening before the accident took place, think carefully before you submit to testing. Your company’s policies may have zero tolerance for job impairment, and a positive test result for certain substances could affect your ability to claim benefits under a workers’ compensation policy.