Bob was employed as a forklift driver for Kardashian Kargo Company. While operating his forlift to place some pallets onto a flatbed, Bob took a turn too fast causing the forklift to tip over. Bob was thrown from the forklift causing him to suffer injuries to several parts of his body. While Bob was in the company infirmary, the company nurse noticed Bob was slurring his words. The nurse thought Bob may have sufferd a head injury but Bob insisted that he did not strike his head. When the nurse got close to Bob, she also detected the smell of alcohol. At that time, two co-workers approached the shift supervisor and stated that Bob was behaving erratically during his shift that day and that he was operating the forklift in a reckless fashion. When they went to the site where Bob crashed his forklift, they found a half-consumed bottle of vodka tucked under the driver’s seat.
Question: Will Bob’s apparent alcohol use preclude a workers compensation claim?
Answer: Intoxication can be a defense to workers compensation claim. Where an employer suspects that intoxication played a part in the injury, the employer must establish that the employee was intoxicated when the injury occurred. This is why many employers require an injured employee to submit to drug and alcohol testing when they report an injury. In Bob’s case, the employer will secure blood samples that will be sent to a toxicology laboratory to determine if Bob had consumed alcohol and was impaired as a result. In addition to proving intoxication, the employer must also establish that the injuries would not have occurred but for the intoxication.
If you’ve suffered a work injury and have questions about your claim, contact me at [email protected] or call (570) 347-1011 for a free consultation.
Disclaimer: The above article is for instructive purposes only and each case is fact sensitive. Consultation with an attorney should be obtained instead of reliance upon the legal issues discussed in this column.