A worker suffered a serious workplace injury and was taken to the hospital for treatment. While there, he was drug tested. The test was positive for methadone, a drug used to treat narcotic withdrawal and dependence.
Cause of the accident: a roof-bolting machine fell on the employee’s leg.
His employer sought to deny workers’ comp benefits based on the positive drug test.
On top of the positive test, the employee also admitted he had obtained the prescription for methadone under false pretenses.
The state’s Workers’ Compensation Commission ruled the employee should receive benefits because the company didn’t prove that the drug use caused the accident.
State law states “no compensation shall be awarded to the employee … for an injury … caused by … the employee’s use of a non-prescribed controlled substance.”
The key phrase was “caused by.” The Commission found that the company didn’t show the drug use caused the accident. The decision held up when the company appealed.
Key: If an employee’s drug use didn’t cause a workplace accident and injury, workers’ comp benefits can’t be denied.
Cite: Dominion Coal Corp. v. Bowman, Court of Appeals of VA, No. 0628-08-3, 2/10/09.