Case name: Hogg v. Oklahoma County Juvenile Bureau, No. 110890 (Okla. 12/11/12).
Ruling: The Oklahoma Supreme Court held that a worker overcame the rebuttable presumption of ineligibility for workers' compensation benefits for drug use.
What it means: In Oklahoma, a worker who tested positive for illegal drugs after a work accident can be entitled to benefits if he shows that the substance use was not the major cause of his injury.
Summary: A worker for a county juvenile detention center sustained an injury to his shoulder and neck while subduing a combative juvenile. He reported the injury to his employer four days later. He was given a post-accident drug screen that same day and a follow-up screen the next day. Both screens showed the presence of marijuana in his system. The worker denied ever smoking marijuana, but before the accident, he was in the presence of others who were smoking marijuana. The Oklahoma Supreme Court found that the worker was entitled to benefits.
The court examined a newly created statute and found that the use of illegal drugs had to be a major cause of the injury or accident to deny benefits. Also, a rebuttable presumption was created. To be eligible for benefits, a worker can overcome the rebuttable presumption by establishing that the substance use was not the major cause of the injury. Here, the trial court found there was no evidence to show that the worker was high at the time of the accident. There was also no evidence showing that the marijuana in his system was the major cause of the injury. Therefore, the court concluded that he overcame the presumption of ineligibility for workers' compensation benefits.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
March 4, 2013
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