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How Drug Testing Affects Medical Treatment

Drug testing in Georgia workers’ compensation cases has become more common.  Drug testing usually takes two forms.

The first type of drug testing is done shortly after a work injury occurs.  This type of testing can be used to deny your entire workers’ compensation claim on the grounds that your injury was caused by willful misconduct.

Drug and Alcohol Testing After a Work Injury

Whenever a work injury occurs in Georgia, most employers will send you to a medical clinic for evaluation and treatment.  The medical staff will almost always perform drug and alcohol testing.

This is done because the law in Georgia allows employers to deny benefits when they can prove you are intoxicated.  In fact, it is important for you to know that the refusal to submit to a drug test can create a presumption that a work injury was caused by your drug or alcohol use.  So, if you do not take the test when asked, you may have to prove that you were not intoxicated.

Insurance companies may deny your case if they have tests showing you were intoxicatedProving an Intoxication Defense

If you take the test and the results show drugs or alcohol in your system, it may create a presumption that your injury was caused by alcohol or drug use.  However, the employer has to meet some specific requirements to establish this presumption:

  1. The testing must actually done within a certain time of the accident occurring.
  2. The test must show an alcohol level above .08 or the presence of marijuana or another improperly used controlled substance.

Proving Intoxication Did Not Cause Your Work Injury

What happens if the presumption is established? It is important to understand that this presumption is “rebuttable”.  That means that it is not the end of your case.

You can have a hearing with a Georgia workers’ compensation judge to determine if your injury actually was caused by drug or alcohol use.   If you hire an attorney and request a hearing, your employer will have the burden of proving its defense in court.

 New rules regarding drug testing in Georgia

Drug testing also takes place when doctors prescribe medication for you to treat your injuries.  In recent years, this testing has increased.  This increase is an attempt to crack down on people who are illegally taking or selling prescription drugs.

Drug testing helps confirm that pain medication is being taken as prescribedThis type of drug testing is most often done in pain management treatment.  It has increased because of changes in the law and because of rules put in place by the Georgia Medical Board.

One situation where these new rules have an effect is when a patient is being treated with medication for chronic pain lasting more than 3 months.  This often happens in workers’ compensation cases because severe back, leg and arm injuries can cause chronic pain.

Under the new rules, doctors are required to monitor compliance with treatment.  There are a few different methods a doctor can use to monitor compliance.  One is drug testing.  Another is the Georgia Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.  There are other monitoring options the doctor can use as well.

Problems that come from failing a drug test

It is very important to listen to your doctor and to take your medications as prescribed.  Failing to do so could harm you.

If you are in pain management treatment, your doctor will probably have you sign an agreement saying that you are going to take the medications as prescribed.  The agreement will also say that you are not going to get medications from any other physician.

If a drug test shows that you may have violated this agreement, many doctors will discharge you as a patient.  A discharge can cause real problems with your workers’ compensation case because of the rules about what doctors you can treat with for your injury.

What can be done if you fail a drug test and are discharged by your doctor

If you fail a drug test or get discharged from treatment by a pain management doctor, it does not mean your workers’ compensation case is over.  But getting kicked out of treatment obviously affects the medical treatment you are receiving.  It can also affect your entitlement to weekly workers’ compensation benefits.

What if I have other questions about workers compensation?

Georgia’s workers compensation system can be very confusing.  You have to worry about getting the treatment you need and paying your bills while also worrying about not missing any deadlines that could cause you to lose your right to receive workers compensation benefits.

If you have questions, I would recommend that you try to get answers.  To find out more about how to schedule a time to talk to me about your workers compensation questions, just read this short article.

Jason Perkins is an attorney who specializes in representing injured workers.  He regularly publishes videos and write blog articles about Georgia’s workers compensation system and issues that are important to injured workers and their families.

To be notified of Jason’s new workers compensation videos, subscribe to his Georgia Workers Compensation Video Series channel on YouTube by clicking the subscribe button below.

Brittney-lee orourkeBrittney-lee orourke
05:23 18 Feb 22
Amazing! Jason and his team were very helpful and had the best communication by far. Walked me though every step with great detail and had answers for any question I had. They handled my case better then I could imagine, it was a weird case and they stayed on top of it and kept me updated every step of the way! Highly recommend this Team! Thanks so much to Jason and his Awesome team!-Brittney
China JonesChina Jones
18:58 08 Feb 22
I absolutely love this group of attorneys, when I was at my lowest they did everything they could to help me get justice for my injury. I believe if I were to have never picked my phone up and called the amazing group that helped me I definitely would not have received my idea of rights. If you have an issue and are just not sure please understand that they will help you, stay in contact, answer any question you have, and for sure get you the justice you deserve I thank them from the bottom of my heart and I will definitely refer them to anyone who has been hurt because they most definitely care about their work and clients.
Luv LocsLuv Locs
16:08 15 Jan 22
The entire law office was attentive and responsive to all of my concerns dealing with my workers compensation case.
21:14 02 Jan 22
If you must get a lawyer involved, you’d do well to work with Jason Perkins and his team at Perkins Studdard Law.They were thorough in gathering information and in sharing all the steps in the workers comp process specific to my case. Jason and the team were responsive to my bevy of questions and concerns.I appreciated the informative videos and consultations provided by Jason over video meetings and multiple phone calls.I hope I’m never injured on the job again. However, if I am and if my employer responds as my previous employer did, I’ll contact Perkins Studdard Law immediately to handle the case.
Dana BessDana Bess
23:57 10 Dec 21
Everyone at Perkins Studdard was kind and professional. They were always extremely responsive and answered all questions that I had and followed up to make sure I had an understanding of what was going on along with emailing videos to explain every step of my case so I would know what to expect and be prepared. Jason is a very genuine person and I trusted him with my case. He answered so many questions for me even before I retained him as my WC lawyer. I highly recommend him and his associates at Perkins Studdard.

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Jason Perkins

Workers' Compensation Attorney

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