Injured Florida Woman Denied Workers’ Compensation After Positive Drug Test

Test tubesA woman was working at a hospital when she fell and hurt her shoulder. When she tested positive for marijuana, the law presumed that the accident was due to her drug use. The court held that she did not successfully rebut the presumption of the drugs being the cause of the accident. Therefore, she was denied workers’ compensation benefits under the law. If you are injured at work, it is important to contact a Florida personal injury attorney as soon as possible. With the assistance of a skilled attorney, the woman in this case may have been able to successfully rebut the presumption and thus be eligible for benefits.

Facts of the Case

 Here, the plaintiff was working at her job cleaning hospital rooms when she slipped and fell as she was running to alert nurses on duty about a patient who was in distress. After she fell, her employer took her to the hospital to get treatment, and then took her immediately to a clinic, which gave her a drug test. She tested positive for marijuana during this test.

Plaintiff’s employer has a policy that allows them to test for drugs when there is suspicion of drug use or there is an accident. If the drug test after an accident comes up positive, then Florida workers’ compensation law states that there is a presumption that the accident was caused by the drug use of the injured person. Thus, they will not be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits unless they successfully rebut the statutory presumption.

 Statutory Presumption

A statutory presumption means that the burden shifts to the other party to disprove the presumption. So here, the injured worker needed to prove to the court that the accident was not primarily caused by her drug use. In the past, some people have been successful in rebutting this presumption by proving the cause of the accident. For example, proving that there was something on the ground that the plaintiff tripped over. Alternatively, people have shown that their drug use took place well before the date of the accident and therefore could not have contributed.

In this case, the worker presented evidence from experts attacking the drug test itself. She also argued that it is impossible to tell when she smoked pot, and there was no proof that the drug use was the day of the accident. However, the court did not find this sufficient to rebut the presumption in the statute. Thus, the court upheld the denial of benefits.

Dissent

One of the justices did dissent from the majority opinion. He argued that the employer’s policy only allowed drug testing when there was a reason to suspect drug use. Thus, it was not appropriate for her to be drug tested in this situation and the test should be disregarded. He also argued that she did everything she could to rebut the presumption that she was under the influence of drugs and it would be unfair to expect employees to prove more than the fact that the metabolites could have been inactive.

Contact an Experienced South Florida Personal Injury Attorney Today!

If you have experienced a workplace injury, you should contact a skilled Florida personal injury attorney as soon as possible. The knowledgeable Florida personal injury attorneys at Donaldson & Weston can help you to get all of the damages and benefits to which you are entitled. Call them at 772-266-555 or 561-299-3999 or use the contact form on this website to schedule your free, confidential consultation today.

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