Opioids are a group of drugs that includes legal painkilling medications like oxycodone and hydrocodone as well as illegal drugs like heroin. Although opioids offer effective treatment for pain, their use can lead to dependency. Illegal use of prescription opioids has become a serious problem throughout the country. Workers who suffer injuries on the job may have questions about how Nevada’s workers’ compensation law treats opioid use.
Workers’ compensation coverage and drug use
Like other drugs or alcohol, opioids may impair judgment and physical reaction times. Under Nevada’s workers’ compensation law, an insurer can deny an injured worker benefits if the worker was under the influence of a controlled substance at the time of the injury, unless the worker can show that being under the influence was not the proximate cause of the injury. NRS 616C.230(1)(d). The legal definition of “under the influence” for opioids varies depending on the substance involved, but follows the same standards as police use to determine if a driver was driving while intoxicated.
A worker who does not have a valid prescription for opioids therefore risks loss of workers’ compensation coverage. Because opioids can cause occupational impairment, a user may be more likely to suffer injury. Loss of coverage is just one more risk a user assumes by continuing to abuse opioids. The best course is always to seek help with overcoming drug dependencies. Many employers offer anonymous employee assistance programs to help their workers stay healthy.
Prescription medications and disability
Nevada workers’ compensation law makes an exception for workers with lawful prescriptions for controlled substances, including opioids. NRS 616C.230(1)(d). An insurer cannot base a denied claim solely on the fact that someone is taking prescription medication.
Workers who are currently taking prescription opioids to manage pain for a condition also may qualify for the legal protections extended to disabled individuals. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), an employer must provide a disabled employee with reasonable accommodations to account for his or her disability. In Nevada a disabled person cannot be fired solely for taking prescription medication to treat a disability. For workers who take prescription opioids to treat job-related injuries that are covered by workers’ compensation, an employer may need to offer light duty work.
Talk to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney if you have questions
If you have questions about how opioid use may affect your ability to claim workers’ compensation benefits, the attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez are here to help. We have served the Las Vegas working community for more than 45 years and have extensive experience dealing with tricky workers’ comp issues. For a free consultation call us today at 702-388-4476, or send us a request through our site.