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How drug testing can affect workers’ compensation claims

On Behalf of | Feb 24, 2024 | Workers' Compensation |

There are many myths about workers’ compensation that deter people from filing claims. Misinformation passes from one person to another and may deter someone in need of financial support after a workplace injury from seeking benefits.

One of the more common myths about workers’ compensation benefits in Minnesota is the idea that drug and alcohol testing is automatically part of the process. Individuals who may have attended a party the day before an incident at work or those who occasionally use certain substances on their own time may decide that they should not report an injury to their employers because they assume that they might fail a test. They worry that they won’t get benefits and might even lose their jobs after failing the test administered.

Those who understand the rules about drug and alcohol testing related to workers’ compensation in Minnesota may feel more comfortable making use of this system in place for their protection.

Drug testing is not universally mandatory

Despite what people often claim, workers’ compensation statutes in Minnesota do not require drug and alcohol testing anytime a worker files a claim or reports an incident on the job. Many employers do request testing, possibly because they participate in the drug-free workplace program. Testing is not necessarily automatic, but it is very common. It is also not as accurate as people might assume. Certain substances can turn up in a drug test weeks after someone used that drug. A failed drug test therefore is not necessarily indicative of someone’s impairment on the job.

A failed test does not end benefits rights

Another misconception about drug and alcohol testing is the idea that someone automatically becomes disqualified for benefits if they fail the test. However, their employer still needs to establish that someone’s alleged chemical impairment was the underlying cause of the incident on their job. A worker could potentially attempt to move forward with a claim, although it may become a disputed claim. They could potentially provide evidence showing that the cause of the incident was something else or establish that there is an alternate explanation for why they failed the test.

Workers should not avoid filing a claim or reporting an incident just because they worry about drug and alcohol testing. Learning more about the rules that apply to workers’ compensation coverage, and seeking legal guidance accordingly, may benefit those hurt on the job who are worried about covering their related expenses.

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