Employers in Illinois can require drug testing after a work injury. They are also permitted to have a policy in place to fire employees who refuse drug tests. Not all policies stand up under legal scrutiny, and it’s illegal to fire an employee because they are pursuing a workers’ compensation claim. However, the main point we want to make is that you might be facing a drug test if you are injured on the job, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t get benefits if you have a good case.
Illinois law allows the insurance company to deny your claim if your drug test is positive, but it’s not the final word. It’s called a presumption, and a presumption can be rebutted. In other words, if you have a positive test, then it’s presumed that the intoxication or influence of drugs was the cause of your injury. BUT, you and your lawyer have the chance to prove the opposite. If you can do this, then you should be able to get benefits.
Take the example of an employee who smokes pot over the weekend and then gets injured at work on Monday. Their drug test comes back positive, but they were in no way impaired by drugs on Monday. The insurance company denies the claim based on the positive drug test and the employee doesn’t get any benefits (medical coverage, pay for time off work, etc.), which they would have received if they hadn’t had the drug test. What you can do is present evidence that drugs were not the cause of your injury.
It makes sense that if an employee is wasted or high on the job, and it causes an injury, then they won’t get benefits. It’s really frustrating, however, that the law works this way when a worker is legitimately injured and it’s not related at all to drug or alcohol impairment.
An unfortunate reality in these cases is that rebutting the presumption takes extra time. This can delay treatment and your recovery. An insurance company isn’t going to pass up the chance to deny a claim, especially where there was a positive drug test. But with an experienced work injury attorney in your corner, it’s worth putting up a fight. Look for a lawyer who has been successful in winning these cases in the past.