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Arkansas: Worker Fails to Rebut Presumption That Accident Was “Substantially Occasioned” by Drugs

February 06, 2015 (1 min read)







An Arkansas appellate court has affirmed a decision denying workers’ compensation benefits to a worker who fell as he descended a ladder on the basis that following the accident he tested positive for methamphetamine and that he failed to rebut the statutory presumption in Ark. Code Ann. § 11–9–102(4)(B)(iv) that the accident was substantially occasioned by the drugs. The court observed that although a technician testified he could not determine when the drugs were ingested or whether the worker was intoxicated, the presence of the drugs triggered the presumption. The worker and several others testified that he had not ingested methamphetamine near the time of the accident, but the ALJ specifically found the worker’s testimony not to be credible based, at least in part, on the worker’s past drug use and criminal conviction for intent to manufacture methamphetamine. Observing further that the phrase “substantially occasioned” required that there be a direct causal link between the use of alcohol (or illegal drugs) and the injury in order for the injury to be noncompensable. Evidence suggested no one else had ever fallen from the ladder. It was within the WCJ’s discretion to conclude that the ladder was not unsafe and was not the cause of the fall as he claimed.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is a leading commentator and expert on the law of workers’ compensation.

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance. Bracketed citations link to

See Reed v. Turner Indus., 2015 Ark. App. 43, 2015 Ark. App. LEXIS 59 (Jan. 28, 2015) [2015 Ark. App. 43, 2015 Ark. App. LEXIS 59 (Jan. 28, 2015)]

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 36.03 [36.03]

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law.









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