The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act was changed in September of 2011.  One of the more subtle changes that has had a big impact on cases relates to taking a drug test if you are hurt on the job.
Under the new law, if you are injured, you have to take a drug test and if you test positive, it creates a rebuttable presumption that you were high at the time of your injury.  In plain English that means that the insurance company can deny your case until you can prove that you weren’t high when you got hurt.
It’s really a ridiculous law that was created for bogus reasons.  Someone made up a story that a worker got benefits even though they were wasted when they got hurt.  That wasn’t true and the law has always been that if you were under the influence and it contributed to your injury, you lost your case.  But perception became reality and this is how workers get punished in Illinois.
So now what happens is that you smoke marijuana at your house on Saturday.  On Wednesday you sever a tendon in your wrist with a saw and have to go to the emergency room.  You test positive when clearly your smoking played no role in you getting hurt.  Now you need an expensive surgery and can’t get it performed because the case has been denied.
We’d gladly take this case on and win it, but you would unfortunately suffer in the months it took to get to a trial hearing.  That’s how ridiculous the law is.
The question we get a lot is should a worker even take the drug test at all, especially when it can open up a can of worms like this?  The answer is that you have to and if you don’t you can lose your case right then and there.  Some people feel it’s an invasion of their privacy, but whatever your reasons, don’t risk your case because you don’t want to pee in a cup.  You just have to do it.  I’m sure that’s not what some people want to hear, but we never do anything other than tell the truth.  We’ll fight like hell for our clients, but this is a fight that can’t be won.  You just have to take the test.

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By Michael Helfand