An ongoing legal entanglement has been decided in favor of an Alaska worker who was injured on the job. The case went all the way to the state’s Supreme Court, which ultimately upheld a lower court ruling. Several entities tried to convince the court that the man should not be entitled to workers’ comp benefits because he was reportedly under the influence of drugs and alcohol when the workplace accident occurred.
The worker was on a ladder when its support system gave way and he plummeted 30 feet to the ground. While he survived, the worker suffered severe injuries that left him permanently unable to work. The worker is said to have admitted to using drugs and alcohol before climbing the ladder to repair a roof, items, which, he says, the property owner gave to him.
Court rules drugs and alcohol were not factors
A lower court determined that drug or alcohol use had no bearing on culpability in this case. The court ruled that a support system on the ladder failed and that this was the causal factor of the incident, something that could have occurred whether a person using the ladder was sober or intoxicated. The state’s highest court affirmed the lower court ruling.
Evidence did not prove that intoxication caused the fall
The court noted that using an affirmative defense — in this case, alleging that the man should not receive benefits because he was intoxicated when the accident occurred — means that evidence must prove that the intoxication directly caused the man to fall from the ladder. The Alaska Supreme Court ruled that this was not proven. Workers’ compensation claims are often complex, which is why it is helpful to seek legal guidance before processing a claim, especially if a worker thinks there is a chance that the claim will be denied.