If a worker in North Carolina is intoxicated or under the influence of controlled substances, and if that intoxication or substance caused a work-related injury, there can be no recovery for the injured or killed worker.
However, this does not mean that the intoxicated worker cannot recover for a workers' comp claim. It is only when the employer can prove that the intoxication caused the injury that the employer can avoid paying the worker’s claim.
The issue of whether a worker’s intoxication was the cause of the injury is a fact issue to be decided by the North Carolina Industrial Commission.
One case that illustrates these circumstances involved an employee who was injured when his blood alcohol level was .387 soon after the accident. The Industrial Commission found that the employee’s intoxication was not the proximate cause of his injury sustained when his hand got stuck on a lumber conveyor.
In another case, the Industrial Commission found that the claimant’s intoxication was not a proximate cause of an accident even though the claimant’s blood alcohol level was .11 to .13 at the time of the accident. In that case, the worker had a pre-existing mental and visual handicap and the equipment provided by his employer malfunctioned. His supervisor testified he did not smell alcohol on the claimant’s breath and that he felt perfectly safe in having the claimant operating the equipment.
Have questions about work injury claims? Our workers' comp lawyers in Raleigh maintain a library of frequently asked questions about injuries and illnesses at work. You can also call our office 877-BRENT-ADAMS or complete a case review request. We do not charge for our initial consultation. If you are not aware how contingency agreements work, we don't collect any money unless we win compensation for our client. Also, any fees we--or any attorney across the state--collect must be approved by the N.C. Industrial Commission. Learn more about attorney fees for workers' comp.