Injured on the Job While Intoxicated? What You Should Know.
It’s certainly not a good idea to be intoxicated on the job. But, what happens if you are injured? Are you still entitled to workers’ compensation benefits? If this situation applies to your work accident, you may want to read on for some important information.
First, you should know that your employer may raise intoxication as a defense to deny responsibility for your workers’ compensation claim. Workers’ compensation insurance is truly considered no-fault insurance in New Jersey. The law states that benefits are available for “personal injuries to, or for the death of, such employee by accident arising out of and in the course of employment.”
The statute goes on to name exceptions. Among them, is intoxication or the unlawful use of controlled dangerous substances as defined in the “New Jersey Controlled Dangerous Substances Act”. If you were hurt on the job and accused of being drunk or high, this may be a factor in determining your ability to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
Recent Case Discusses Intoxication as an Employer’s Defense
The New Jersey Appellate Division recently considered a case regarding an employee who was denied benefits because he was intoxicated on the job. The Court’s opinion is unpublished and thus not considered precedential law. Nonetheless, it provides interesting information.
Antonio worked as a mechanic for National Retail Transportation. There is no dispute that Antonio Diaz was intoxicated at the time of his work accident on January 28, 2014. In fact, a blood sample drawn after the accident confirmed that his blood alcohol content (BAC) was in excess of the legal limits established by New Jersey law.
The accident happened when Antonio attempted to move a piece of heavy equipment, which stood on two tires. Unfortunately, one of the tires was flat and Antonio claimed that it caused the equipment to fall on him. National Retail’s workers’ compensation insurance company denied Antonio’s injury claim, citing his intoxication.
The case was brought to court. An engineering expert confirmed that the flat tire contributed to the accident. Based on testimony during the proceedings, it was determined that Antonio’s intoxication was not the sole reason for the accident that caused his injuries. He was therefore entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
Denied Claim Based on Perceived Intoxication
Unfortunately, some employers will attempt to deny claims based on perceived intoxication. In order for such a claim to have any merit, the following must be demonstrated:
- Proof that the individual was drunk or high at the time of the accident. Was blood drawn that documents the misuse of drugs or alcohol?
- Evidence that the intoxication or impairment was the sole reason for the accident. Did something else contribute to the accident?
If you were intoxicated on the job and received an injury, you should seek the services of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. At the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone, we have decades of experience representing injured workers. Contact us to see if we can assist you.