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Intoxication and Workers’ Compensation Denials

Often, an employer will assert that it should not have to pay Georgia workers’ compensation benefits because an injury occurred as a result of the injured worker’s willful misconduct.  Our previous blog posts in this series have provided an overview of the willful misconduct defense and discussed the specific defense of failure to use a safety appliance.  In this blog, we will discuss a third type of willful misconduct – intoxication.

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.

Proving 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.  First, the testing must actually done within a certain time of the accident occurring.  Second, 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.

How An Attorney Can Help

Often, an attorney can help you prove that there was not drugs or alcohol in your system or that they did not cause your injury. You can get a free consultation with one of our workers’ compensation attorneys by calling the phone number or completing the “Need Help” form on the right of this page.  Also, be on the lookout for our next blog post in this series where we discuss affirmative defenses associated with injuries arising from the attempt to injure yourself or others.

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.

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Jason Perkins

Workers' Compensation Attorney

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