If you live in a legal state, you might think that passing a work-related drug test for legal cannabis might be a thing of the past. But, recent reports have shown that this might not be the case when it comes to workers compensation. Say you live in California, are a recreational or medicinal cannabis user, and you end up getting hurt. Whether it be a fall, a broken bone, or even just a sprain— you put in a workers compensation claim just like anyone else. But, your cannabis use can be a big problem when it comes down to it. But how does that work? And how can a state that legalizes marijuana, also deny claims for those who use it?
Legal Cannabis and Workers Compensation
The number of cannabis users in legal states increases every day. It’s a medicine, it’s a fun-substance, and it’s part of many peoples daily lives. In turn, it is also typically still in the system of someone who actively uses it. This can be a big problem when it comes down to taking that drug test that comes along with a workers compensation claim.
The problem with workers compensation drug tests
Anyone who actively consumes marijuana knows that it doesn’t leave your system in a flash. Ultimately, cannabis can still be present in your system for weeks or months. So, taking drug test after a workers comp claim can be big trouble for someone, even if they weren’t under the influence at the time. It could even be a problem for someone that hasn’t used it in weeks.
But, how does this work in a legal state?
When it comes to matters of workers compensation claims, federal law presides over state law. So, even if recreational cannabis is legal— federally, you are still in the wrong. Just as dispensaries have problems with putting money into banks (a federal system), workers compensation claims still answer to federal regulation. So, until those laws update, if they do, your claims are still liable to be denied.
A potential solution
The biggest problem with legal cannabis and workers compensation, is the lag when it comes to that drug test. Ultimately, a worker can lose the right to being treated for a work related injury even if they haven’t used cannabis in weeks. Legal cannabis, like alcohol, is something that is allowed by the state and should not be subject to work-related penalty if it isn’t interfering with work. So, what about a short-time drug test? A saliva test measures the last few days. Therefore, it would be able to better tell if the worker was under the influence.
Ultimately, a proper decision must be and legal cannabis should only interfere with work in the same way alcohol would. If you use it at work, you’re subject to termination or penalty. But, in a state that legalized recreational usage— recreational usage, should not interfere with the workplace.
Workers comp claims are pretty big hassle. From making sure it’s accepted, to getting healed, to making sure your job is secure through the entire process… it can cause a lot of stress for everyone involved. The best way to avoid the process? Is to avoid the injury when possible, but also file as soon as possible. Learning how to protect yourself and avoid injury within the workplace starts with knowing what to watch out for. So, following— you will find a list of the most common workplace injuries that ultimately end in workers comp claims, as well as how to avoid them.
Common Workplace Injuries: Avoiding Workers Comp Claims
Pulled Muscles, Sprains, Strains, and Tears
Some of the most common workplace injuries, are those ones that you just say ‘ouch’ to and keep on going. They are often overlooked, especially at first. You might not have great posture, and there was a tweak when you went a certain way. With a little time, that tweak, turns into a full on pain. From there, you’re a week out from the initial injury and you have to file a claim. The problem with filing a claim later on down the line, is that they are ‘more questionable’ in the eyes of those handling the claim.
While your injury is real, it’s just a little tougher to prove. So, what do we suggest? While it might sound silly, remind yourself to maintain good posture, stretch before bed, and be aware of what you’re lifting when you do. Avoiding stress on your body starts with preparing it ahead of time for the possibility of injury.
Slips and Falls
Obviously, the most common of all injuries in the workplace— are slips and falls. It’s easy to do in any work setting. Someone could spill something, drop something, and next thing you know— your feet are up in the air. Falling at work can be embarrassing. Because of this, many people will laugh off and move on from quickly. But, a simple fall can cause a concussion, back problems, or even a serious break. Just like a muscle problem— it is not uncommon that you will discover your symptoms on a delay. The main difference is that a fall is typically more public. In turn, it will likely be better documented for when you file a claim.
But, to avoid a claim, we suggest investing in non-slip footwear. They are not always effective, as in any workplace, occasional ‘freak accident’ might occur. But, your chances of avoiding a fall are much more likely if you have invested in the proper gear to keep yourself safe. On the companies side, we suggest making sure every staff member follows through on the proper protocol when it comes to a spill. Make sure your employees know the protocol in the event of a spill, or accident. The best way to prevent workplace injuries, is to know the reasons that they happen. As well as what you can do to protect yourself.
The Opioid Crisis is running rampant these days, and typically, it all stems from an initial injury. Someone is hurt, they receive a prescription, and the rest is predictable. This is not to say that everyone will do so, but the likelihood of it— is harrowing. So, you can see how this might become an issue for those who get hurt on the job. They fell, or something fell on them, or the likes. Next thing you know, they’re in a cast and they’re out of work. The inevitable next step is a prescription to numb the pain. While you might not think so, addiction to prescription medication after an injury, is quite likely. So, how do you prevent this problem from occurring? And is the employer liable for an injured workers becoming dependent?
The Opioid Crisis and Workers Compensation: Getting Hurt and Getting Hooked
There was a case in 2007 where a man who worked for a landscaping company, became injured. He was treating the injury for 5 years with pain medication, until one day, someone discovers him dead in his own bed. To make matters worse, there was fentanyl in his hand. Now, you might read that and think simply— he was facing an injury and so it goes, addiction. What follows is entirely his fault. But, after some trial and, ultimately, a higher court ruling— the company was liable to pay death benefits to his family under workers compensation.
Through further investigation, they found that the man had first been denied further medication. But, he was able to obtain it anyway through a separate doctor. This begs the question of, how far does workers comp liability go? The man was supposed to be denied medication. But he did still obtained it legally and within his workers comp benefits. So, how liable is the employer?
The ultimate court decision eventually says this: if the drugs or treatment are ‘necessary and reasonable’, and they are also available through workers comp benefits, and the person dies as a result of this— the employer is responsible for paying those death benefits.
No matter who’s at fault, the problem is preventable
The risk is high when it comes to dependency. The opioid crisis is more present than ever. But, there are plenty of things you can do as an individual to make sure you aren’t part of the statistic. If you have any sort of injury and need something to dull the pain, by all means. But, from the start, it is important to understand the risks and how to ward off addiction. If you’re hurting, take the medication. But, if the pain is manageable and you can work with it— consider holding off. Developing a dependency starts with taking medication when you don’t fully need it. Pain is temporary, and human, and you are stronger than it.
If you weren’t aware, the amount of money you receive when you’re on workers compensation, is only 2/3 of your average wage. So, less money means a bit more budgeting. But, what can you do while injured to make sure that your financial goals are still met? And how can you earn a little more money to make sure you can still live comfortably? Well, we’ve got a few tips for saving money while on workers comp. Obviously everyone’s situation and injury is different, so you’ve got to find what works for you!
Saving Money and Making More While on Workers Compensation
First things first, plan ahead of time
I know if you’re already injured this might not be particularly helpful, but, use it as your motivation for creating a deeper savings account just in case. It doesn’t have to be with anything in mind, but more as a means of ‘just in case’. Plus, if you never end up needing it— that extra money can be a great retirement bonus, or even take you on a vacation. Saving, is never a bad thing.
Cut unnecessary costs
The best way to save money is to cut those unnecessary costs we all have. From Pandora, to Burger King, to Hulu, to Subscription boxes— we all know there are a few ‘fun costs’ we could let go of if need be. Take a bit of time, write them all down, and see what you’re willing to part ways with. It doesn’t have to be forever, just until you get your financial situation back to comfortable.
If you’ve been thinking about getting rid of a few things, now’s your time
You’ve got some extra time on your hands. Maybe use a bit of it to list those items up for sale that have been sitting in the garage. No one needs two push mowers and a riding lawn mower. If you have unwanted items, there are a ton of resources to help you get rid of them. It clears out your clutter, and gives you a little extra money to work with.
Master the art of couponing
Couponing for when you shop, if you weren’t aware, can save you a ton of money. It’s amazing how much money you can save if you really put your mind to it. I’ve even heard of some people getting money back at the register after all the coupons have been run through. Take a look at the process, while it’s a lot to handle— it’s a fantastic means of saving money.
Find ways to stash extra cash
Whether your method be pet sitting, house sitting, or driving for Uber— there are plenty of ways for you to ‘work’ when you aren’t on the job. Depending on your injury, you might have a few limitations. So, put your mind to it and see what you can come up with. There are plenty of ways to make some extra money if you really need to. We wish you luck in your time with workers compensation.
If you’ve recently filed a workers comp claim and it has been denied, I’m sure you’re wondering why. Workers comp claim denial can come about for a number of reasons. Maybe they had a valid reason, maybe they did not. But, your first step, is to rule out any of these potential factors before you pursue another claim or legal action. Following, you will find a list of common reasons for denial of a claim. You might feel that you’re entitled to compensation, and you likely are. But, there could be many factors working against you.
Common Reasons for Workers Comp Claim Denial
You waited too long
Depending on your state, there is a time limit on filing a workers comp claim. The most common time limit is that of thirty days. While you should file a claim and the time of the initial injury, waiting more than thirty days after the fact can severely hinder your changes of receiving compensation. It might also open you up to the possibility of being accused of filing a fraudulent claim. While your injury is very real, waiting to treat it can make those in charge of your claim question it’s integrity.
You were under the influence
Another reason you might face workers comp claim denial, is if you are under the influence of alcohol, or drugs. When it comes to drugs, particularly marijuana— it stays in your system for some time after you use it. So, even if you were not under the influence at the time of the accident— it is still present at the time of the test. Therefore, they have no obligation to treat your injury or pay your claim.
You did not receive medical records
Say that you’ve decided to see a doctor. You will need to provide a medical record before taking the claim any further. It is very easy for your claim to be denied. It is also very easy for the insurance company to claim that you’re faking your injury when there is no medical record of the injury. Your best bet is to see an approved doctor. Make sure that when you do so, you tell them you were injured at work. Lastly, do not leave without documentation of your injury.
You did not receive treatment from an approved provider
Your company’s insurance likely can only operate within a certain network. Same goes with the workers comp system. If you received treatment outside of the approved providers, they might not reimburse for any treatment. Being that they cannot bill it through insurance, or the workers comp system— it is easily escapable.
Your employer says the claim is false
It is not uncommon for an employer to dispute a claim to avoid paying out. They could claim the details are false, you got your injury outside of work, or any number of details. If they feel you’re missing a step, they are likely to capitalize on it. Your best bet is to receive surveillance footage. Or, make sure other coworkers are aware. Even take witnesses if you have them— and contact a lawyer. We would hope any injured party can file an injury claim in a breeze. But, unfortunately, sometimes that is just not the case. In the event that your employer is disputing a claim you know for a fact is not false, it might be time to seek a lawyer.
If you’ve been injured on the job, it’s time for you to take some action. We know you’re hurting, worried about being out of work, and trying to figure out your next step. It is not uncommon for someone injured on the job to try and handle it on their own. Most people, especially those in a tighter financial situation, will ignore the injury and continue to work. But, we’re here to tell you what to do, and what mistakes are most common for those seeking workers compensation. That way, you can receive proper compensation, and have the time to heal.
Injured on the Job: Common Workplace Injury Mistakes
Deciding to hold off on reporting the injury
If you’ve been injured, it is important that you file a claim as soon as possible. Think about it, a workplace injury is costly for a business. They likely try to avoid paying out as much as possible. Especially if you work for a company with low-morale. So, by reporting as early as possible— preferably at the first sight of injury, you are more likely to not face backlash or debate over compensation.
Deciding to only disclose the main injury
So, you’ve broken your leg. So, you report that and receive treatment. But, you’ve also received some pretty severe back pain from the fall. Because the leg injury was the clear, and obvious thing to fix— you’ve disregarded the back issues. But, not claiming that injury until after the fact can be pretty counterproductive. For starters, not reaching out to receive treatment as soon as possible hinders the healing process. But, it also can come across as a bit fishy to those worker’s comp people. Even though your injury is very real, and very painful— you run the risk of coming across as filing a fraudulent claim. In short, claim early and at the same time.
Returning to work too early
Many people will make the mistake of returning to work before they’re back to where they were. Depending on the company you work for, they might require you to sign something saying that you are back to 100% and have no further injuries. The problem with signing something like this, especially if you return while you’re still nursing the injury, is that you’re likely not back to 100%. You could still use physical therapy, a routine check up, cast removal, and so on. If you sign something saying that their end is all set and you are no longer hurt— it could potentially cost you a lot of money and headache.
Taking on too much, too fast
This one goes hand in hand with returning too early. You’ve sustained quite an injury. Getting back to full functionality, and the entirety of your job description might take some time. Your employer will likely compensate for this, and help where they can. But, there is the chance that they might not. Communicating your position, what you can handle, and how you need to process to go on your end— is vital to ensuring a safe, and healthful return to the workplace.