Worker rebuts presumption of intoxication with expert testimony
Case name: Security National Insurance Co. v. Murrell, No. 02-11-00155-CV (Tex. Ct. App. 08/02/12).
Ruling: The Texas Court of Appeals held that a worker was entitled to benefits because he was not intoxicated when he was injured.
What it means: In Texas, an injured worker can rebut the presumption that he was intoxicated at the time of his injury with evidence from an expert and coworkers that he was not intoxicated and did not appear intoxicated.
Summary: A worker was employed to construct an aluminum roof on a warehouse. After he received his first paycheck, he smoked a marijuana joint. Three days later, he rode in a carpool to work and sat through a safety meeting before working on the roof. He said the roof was wet and slippery from rain. After working for three hours, the worker's foot slipped and he fell. His injuries caused him to be hospitalized for a month. A urine drug screen taken in the hospital on the day of the injury revealed the presence of marijuana metabolites. Based on the drug screen, the employer's insurer denied compensability for his injuries. The Texas Court of Appeals held that he was entitled to benefits.
Although the insurer's expert stated that the worker was intoxicated at the time of the accident, another examiner explained that the effects of marijuana dissipate after six hours. The examiner said that the drug screen measured exposure, not intoxication. Two of the worker's coworkers said that he did not appear intoxicated on the day of the accident. The worker said he smoked one joint three days before the accident. The court pointed out that he was able to describe everything he did on the morning of the fall. The court explained that the scientific and expert evidence was not conclusive that the worker was intoxicated from marijuana at the time his injury occurred. He successfully rebutted the presumption of intoxication.
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October 11, 2012
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