Former Lifestyle Not a Valid Argument in WC Case

no smoking signIn Kansas, a court decided to uphold the benefits to a worker who had adult-onset asthma she claimed she developed at work. Yes, she was a smoker and had frequently used crack cocaine in the past. But the court decided that was neither here nor there and she will still receive workers’ comp.

The court pointed to the state’s statute requiring the employer to prove the worker was under the influence at the time of the injury, and that the impairment directly contributed to their injury. The worker, though having admitted to using crack cocaine a few times a month for at least three years, said she had not smoked in the four years before her work accident occurred. It is not enough for the employer to say “Well, she used in the past”.

Her doctor said that some of her injury stemmed from her previous lifestyle but some of it came from exposure to grain dust at work. The employer would not have been on the hook for her benefits if she had been high at work or had still been using. The court decided that there was no proof that was the case.

Though I’m not sure I agree with the worker’s lifestyle before, it is nice to know that the law is still on the side of the employee.

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