Marijuana can affect your workers compensation claim. Many Virginia employers require drug testing for their employees, especially after an injury on the job. Marijuana is one of those drugs that stays in the body for a prolonged period of time and can show up on a urinalysis long after use, even if the injured worker was not under the influence at the time of the accident. However, this positive drug test can (and often does) lead to the injured worker being terminated from their employment for violation of the employer’s drug policy.
Also, if you are under the care of a pain management doctor, they will routinely give you a drug test. They are testing for illegal drugs in your system, as well as the level of the narcotics they are giving you to make sure its at the correct level.
What does that mean for the workers compensation claim?
The short answer is that if an injured worker was terminated from their employment for a positive drug test, he or she will not be able to collect lost wages if/when the doctor releases them to light duty work (the injured worker does not have a job to return to because of the termination of employment as a result of the positive drug test). The next hurdle is that the insurance company could make the argument that the injured worker was under the influence of marijuana at the time of the injury and, therefore, they are not responsible for paying the injured worker’s medical bills. Also, pain management doctors will not prescribe pain medications if their drug test shows positive for illegal drugs or if it shows the injured worker is abusing the narcotics prescribed. Most pain management doctors will actually not treat you any more if this happens. You will suffer withdrawal symptoms and it will be very slow getting a new doctor to treat you. It takes months to find a doctor who will even treat you at all after that.
Obviously, my number one recommendation is to not participate in illegal drug use.
If you were injured at work and tested positive for marijuana or your treating doctor’s drug test comes back positive, you should seek legal help immediately.
About the Author: Michele Lewane
The Injured Workers Law Firm is a Richmond, Virginia based firm solely focused on serving clients with workers' compensation claims in Virginia. If you have questions about your benefits or if you would like more information on the Virginia workers’ compensation system, order our book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” , or call our office today (804) 755-7755.