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Can you claim workers’ compensation if you were on prescription drugs when the work injury occurred?

On June 3, 2013, life changed abruptly for a 28-year-old Illinois forklift operator. While he was making an adjustment to his machinery, it malfunctioned and struck him on the upper arm, causing a compound fracture. He was unable to work for more than five months. When he applied for workers’ compensation, his claim was denied because he was found to have been abusing prescription painkillers in large doses while on the job. Prescription drug use does not automatically cause denial of claims, but workers who use these medications must be aware of the rules and limitations of Illinois law.

Prescription drugs are common in America

Every Illinois construction accident lawyer is aware that powerful prescription drugs have become common in recent decades. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the sale of prescription painkillers in America has increased by almost 400 percent since 2000. CDC statistics show that the amount of pain medication prescribed in a single year is enough to medicate every adult American citizen heavily for an entire month.

Increasing use and abuse

Many Illinois doctors are willing to prescribe generously for patients who suffer severe pain. Unfortunately, not all of these prescriptions are put to legitimate medical use. Many strong prescriptions are sold on the black market or abused for recreational purposes. Some patients find themselves addicted and unable to quit after surgery or trauma. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, more than 70,000 people in Illinois are treated for substance abuse every year.

Illinois law penalizes illicit impairment on the job

Illinois law states that workers who have suffered an accident because of intoxication or illegal drug use are not eligible for state workers’ compensation. If a person is hurt after coming to work drunk or high, no compensation is due. This rule does not apply to legitimate use of prescribed medications, as a Illinois construction accident lawyer knows.

Medical testimony can help injured workers

Injured workers using prescription painkillers or similar medications must seek medical testimony to prove that their drug use was legitimate and did not cause impairment. They should document all of the following information with a doctor’s help:

  • Pre-existing medical conditions at the time of the accident
  • All prescriptions made before the accident
  • Dosage of the drug taken on the day of the accident

This information can make the difference between a failed claim and a successful claim.

People who use prescription drugs can still make a strong case for workers’ compensation. Have you been injured on the job? You may find it useful to speak with an Illinois construction accident lawyer.

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