The workers’ compensation system generally provides benefits to injured employees without regard to who was at fault for an accident in the workplace. State law does provide an exception for cases of accidents caused by the intoxication of employees.
Employers and their workers’ compensation insurance carriers are not obligated to pay claims for workplace injuries that result from employees being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. When an employer or insurance company is attempting to deny a workers’ compensation claim because of the statutory defense of alleged intoxication, it is important for the employee to understand how these allegations can be disproven.
Lawyer for Intoxication in Miami, FL Workers’ Compensation Cases
If you or your loved one has had your workers’ compensation claim denied because of alleged intoxication, it is in your best interest to immediately retain legal counsel. The Hoffman Firm represents clients in communities throughout Miami-Dade County, Palm Beach County, and Broward County.
Miami workers’ compensation attorney Evan A. Hoffman provides legal representation in workers’ compensation cases on a contingency fee basis, so you do not pay anything unless you receive a monetary award. Call (305) 940-2307 today to have our lawyer review your case and discuss your legal options during a free, confidential consultation.
Overview of Workers’ Compensation Cases Involving Intoxication in Florida
- How can a worker be considered intoxicated?
- Can an employer order a worker to take a drug test?
- Where can I find more information about workplace intoxication issues in South Florida?
Florida Statute § 440.09(3) specifically states that workers’ compensation is not payable if an injury was occasioned primarily by the intoxication of the employee or by the influence of any drugs, barbiturates, or other stimulants not prescribed by a physician. It is presumed that the injury was occasioned primarily by the intoxication of the employee if the employee has, at the time of the injury, a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) equal to or greater than the level specified in the state’s driving under the influence (DUI) statute, Florida Statute § 316.193.
The drunk driving statute states that an alleged offender is considered to be under the influence of alcoholic beverages, any chemical substance, or any controlled substance when affected to the extent that his or her normal faculties are impaired or when he or she has a BAC of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath. Injured workers are presumed to be sober, so employers will typically have tests performed at hospitals in order to have proof of the BACs of injured employees.
When an injured worker has a BAC level equal to or greater than 0.08, it is presumed that the injury was caused primarily by the intoxication of the employee.
Employers in Florida have the authority to require drug testing under Florida Statute § 440.102. Employers can require workers to submit to drug tests following workplace accidents, regardless of whether the employer had a state-certified drug testing program in place.
When an employer has implemented a state-certified drug testing program, an employee who tests positive for any drug use creates the presumption that the drug use caused his or her injury. Under Florida Statute § 440.09(7)(b), “this presumption may be rebutted only by evidence that there is no reasonable hypothesis that the intoxication or drug influence contributed to the injury.”
If the employer did not implement a state-certified drug testing program, the same presumption may be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence that the intoxication or influence of the drug did not contribute to the injury. It is important to remember that some drugs will stay in a person’s system much longer than alcohol, and a worker could thus technically test positive for a controlled substance such as marijuana even though he or she was not technically under the influence of the drug at the time of the accident.
An Employer's Guide to a Drug-Free Workplace | Florida Department of Financial Services — The Division of Workers’ Compensation produced this information and resource guide to help provide an overview of a drug-free workplace program in Florida. The guide discusses the benefits of going drug-free and covers how to become a workers' compensation drug-free workplace. It also covers drug testing standards, addresses the rights and responsibilities of employers and employees, and provides answers to frequently asked questions.
Division of Workers' Compensation
Bureau of Compliance
401 N.W. Second Avenue
Miami, Florida 33128
Domino's Pizza v. Gibson, 668 So. 2d 593 — Richard E. Gibson was injured in an automobile accident while working as a pizza delivery man for Domino's, and a test of his BAC performed at the hospital measured 0.293 milligrams of alcohol per deciliter of blood serum. Domino's and its insurance carrier, Alexis, Inc., denied Gibson’s workers’ compensation claim on the grounds that Florida Statute § 440.09(3) precluded him from receiving workers' compensation benefits for his injuries. Gibson filed a motion in limine to exclude all evidence of his post-accident BAC on the ground that the test was performed on blood serum rather than whole blood, and a judge of compensation claims (JCC) granted Gibson's motion, subsequently issuing a final order ruling that Gibson's accident was compensable. On appeal, the First District Court of Appeal certified the following question to be of great public importance: “Does Florida Statute §440.09(3) preclude expert testimony converting blood alcohol content from a percentage of blood serum to a percentage of whole blood?” On February 22, 1996, the Supreme Court of Florida answered the certified question in the negative and quashed the prior decision.
The Hoffman Firm | Miami Worker’s Compensation Intoxication Lawyer
Is your employer or its workers’ compensation insurance carrier trying to deny your claim for benefits because you were allegedly intoxicated when you suffered your injury on the job? You will want to contact The Hoffman Firm as soon as possible for help making sure that you receive a fair hearing.
Evan A. Hoffman is an experienced workers’ compensation attorney in Miami who fights for injured workers in Miami Beach, West Palm Beach, Aventura, Boynton Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Hallandale Beach, Homestead, and several nearby areas in South Florida. You can have him provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case when you call (305) 940-2307 or submit an online contact form today to schedule a free consultation.
Evan A. Hoffman
Mr. Hoffman’s philosophy is "our knowledge and experience is your best defense." He has been a featured author on criminal law issues such as driving under the influence, domestic violence and illegal searches.Read More