If you are injured on the job in Illinois, your employer has the right to send you for a drug test.  It’s one of the biggest bullshit rights that employers and insurance companies have.

I say that because what often happens, is a worker tests positive, gets their benefits denied, and then is forced into a battle to prove that they were not intoxicated when they got injured.  Insurance companies like to preach that they are against frivolous cases, but they bring this frivolous defense all the time.

The reason I say it’s b.s. is because in almost every scenario, an injured worker busts their butt for their company and then in their free time they drink or smoke pot. Obviously if you are drunk or high while working and get injured, your benefits should be contested. The reality though is you can be black out drunk on Saturday night and have no alcohol in your system when hurt at work at noon on Monday.  On the other hand, you could eat one edible or take a couple of smokes from a joint on Saturday night and it will still be in your system the following Friday.

So what happens is that you have to prove you weren’t intoxicated/high when you got hurt.  This usually means a trial. If your injury is minor, most attorneys won’t take your case because the time and money involved to fight for you means that they will spend more than they can recover.

If it’s a mid-size injury, say a broken wrist with no surgery, most Illinois work comp attorneys would take that case and try to use your testimony to rebut they drug test.  You’d tell the truth that you used marijuana on Saturday, but were completely sober the day you got hurt. That, along with witness testimony is usually enough to win, but there’s no guarantee.  It’s stupid though because people would know if you were high, especially if they were with you all day and watched you do excellent work otherwise.

If you have a very big injury, there’s a strategy to use that can often help avoid a trial.  It’s not cheap, but if you are seriously injured and need surgery, it can be worth it.  We can take the results of your drug screen and send them to a toxicologist.  They often can pinpoint based on how much of a drug was in your system when it was actually ingested.  At times this can be enough to convince an insurance company that their fight is a waste of time.  Even if it doesn’t, it can be very convincing at trial along with your credible testimony.

I don’t expect this law or the way it’s used against workers to change.  When that happens you can either sulk or work on ways to counter it which is the best way to win.