In most cases, a worker who is impaired by alcohol or a controlled substance at the time of injury will not be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. However, there may be cases where claims involving alcohol or medication use can be unfairly denied.
How Intoxication Affects a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Rhode Island workers’ compensation law states, “No compensation shall be allowed for the injury or death of an employee… where it is proved that his or her injury or death resulted from his or her intoxication or unlawful use of controlled substances.” While it makes sense that employers would not want to cover the costs of an injury that was the employee’s fault, there are circumstances where impairment may be used to unfairly deny the claim.
Your work injury may be covered depending on:
The amount of alcohol in your system.
Even if alcohol was detected in your system, it does not mean that you were impaired—or that the impairment led to your injury.
Whether the employer provided the alcohol.
If intoxication occurred with the permission or direction of the employer, such as at a mandatory work event, the injury may be covered.
Whether you were impaired by prescription medications.
If you were suffering from drowsiness, dizziness, or other side effects of a medication that you were legally prescribed, you likely still qualify for injury benefits.
The type of injury you sustained.
Intoxication may be a factor in sudden accidents but is less relevant in cases of occupational illness. For example, your alcohol habits have little bearing on whether you develop work-related breathing problems or a repetitive stress injury.
Have You Been Injured On The Job In Rhode Island?
If you've been hurt at work you need to speak with an experienced workers' compensation lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Warwick office directly at 401.946.3200 to schedule your free consultation. We help work injury victims in Providence, Warwick and all areas of Rhode Island.