Employees who use drugs could face significant obstacles when seeking workers’ compensation benefits. Learn more about what to do if the insurance company denies your request for benefits.
Legal Versus Illegal Drug Use
Generally, legal drug use with a prescription should not be a problem when a worker gets injured at work. In a few circumstances, though, it can make a difference:
- If the drugs have impairing side effects
- If the doctor’s instructions were disregarded when taking the drug
- If the person taking the drugs did not have a prescription
- If the drug is medical marijuana
The insurance company may argue that the user of a legal drug was using it improperly or was significantly impaired, causing the accident that led to their injuries themselves. If the drug was illegal or the user did not have a prescription, these arguments may be stronger. To deny benefits, the insurance company ultimately must show that a worker was intoxicated and that the intoxication was the cause of the workplace injury.
What to Do When You Learn of a Benefits Denial
If your benefits were denied by the insurance company, you should take action quickly. Check the denial form that the insurer sends you to see if there is any explanation for the denial. If you believe that a positive drug test or your employer’s knowledge that you took drugs contributed to the denial, you should strongly consider reaching out to a workers’ compensation lawyer for help.
To contest the denial, you may need to file a claim petition. This petition essentially requests a hearing of your case by a Minnesota workers’ compensation judge. Before the hearing, you will most likely exchange documents with the insurance company, visit doctors for medical treatment, and have your deposition taken. At your deposition, the insurance company probably will ask detailed questions about your drug use and the prescriptions you had at the time of the injury. A lawyer can help you prepare for the deposition and protect your rights there. In addition, a lawyer can assist you with negotiating a settlement or testifying at a workers’ compensation hearing.
Need help getting workers’ compensation for your injury? Joe Osterbauer, Esq. and the Osterbauer Law Firm stand up for injured Minnesota workers’ rights. Joe’s 27 years of workers’ compensation experience and his team’s speedy service combine to get clients the results they need. To schedule a free consultation, visit Osterbauer Law Firm online or call Joe’s office at (612) 334-3434.