Can workers' comp deny my claim if I test positive for drugs or alcohol in Florida?

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In Florida, an Employer can deny a claim if an injured worker tests positive for drugs or alcohol. If your employer has a drug-free workplace, then a positive test creates a presumption that your accident was caused by intoxication. The presumption that the employer gets from a positive test is rebuttable though - that means it can be overcome. To overcome the presumption of a drug test, the injured employee has to show that there is no reasonable hypothesis that the intoxication or drug influence contributed to the injury.

If an employer does not have a drug free workplace, this doesn't mean that they can't deny your claim. However, an experienced workers' compensation attorney will know how to challenge the denial. The first attack is against the validity of the test itself. Routine medical testing done by emergency care providers may not be admissible in a court of law. If testing procedures set out in statutes and rules are not followed, the test results may not be reliable enough to be considered by the court.

Another way to attack the denial of a claim is to show that a completely sober person would have suffered the same injury. The Florida Supreme Court has held that the failure of safety equipment is one such situation where intoxication may not make any difference. If a window washer falls to his death because the harness rope that is holding him in snaps in two, it doesn't really matter that he tests positive for alcohol. The fall was caused by the failure of equipment, not by intoxication.

Intoxication cases are complicated cases. You should contact an attorney immediately if your case has been denied or you suspect it may be denied. An experienced workers' compensation attorney can properly advise you, and your conversations with that attorney will remain privileged even if you don't hire him or her.

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