Reasons Why You May Be Ineligible for Worker’s Compensation Benefits
Let’s say you are injured on-the-job. Determining eligibility for worker’s compensation benefits depends on a number of factors, including your specific contractual employment situation and how the injury came about.
The Indiana Worker’s Compensation Act protects employees who are injured or killed by accident at work and in the course of their employment. The worker’s compensation protections are limited, however, and provide for medical treatment, compensation for lost wages, and compensation for the loss or loss of use of body parts.
When an injury occurs at work, it is important than an employee reports it immediately to his or her employer, stating all of the areas of the body which they believe were affected. The law only provides employees a 30 day window-of-time in which to notify an employer about an on-the-job injury. Now even though theoretically the worker’s compensation system doesn’t consider fault, employers have several defenses which they can use to argue an employee is ineligible to receive benefits under worker’s compensation. These defenses include the following:
- the employee knowingly self-inflicted the injury on him or herself,
- the employee’s injury was caused by the employee’s intoxication,
- the employee’s injury was caused by the employee committing an offense,
- the employee’s injury was caused by the employee knowingly failed to use a safety appliance,
- the employee’s injury was caused by the employee knowingly failing to obey a reasonable written or printed safety rule that was posted in a conspicuous place at work, or
- the employee’s injury was caused by the employee knowingly failing to follow a statutory duty.
So let’s say, for example, a person shows up to work after drinking a few beers and then is injured on the job. Immediately after being injured, the employee reports it to his employer, who then requests the employee to submit to a drug test. The drug test results come back showing that the employee had alcohol in his bloodstream. If the employer can show that the employee’s intoxication caused the employee’s injury, then the employee is barred from receiving any worker’s compensation benefits from the injury.
Under Indiana law, an employer can require an employee to take a drug test immediately after an injury occurs in order to protect an employer’s potential defenses against the worker’s compensation claim. If an employee refuses to submit to a drug test immediately after an injury occurs, that employee can potentially lose any right he has to worker’s compensation benefits.
Importantly, a positive drug test result alone does not bar an employee from being eligible for worker’s compensation benefits. The employer still has to prove that the employee’s intoxication caused the injury.