Is an Employer Responsible for the Behavior of a Drug Addicted Employee?

Addiction, disease. Drug abuse concept. Drug addict holding syringe in front of him. Drug addict hooked on needle.

Here in the state of Connecticut, almost every employer is required to have workers’ compensation insurance. This is required by the Connecticut Workers Compensation Act, which also grants a no-fault process for employees and employers. This process often prevents employees from suing employers for pain and suffering, but there are some cases that that are exempt from this compensation system. In one such case, a worker is on a mission to prove that a staffing company was responsible for the actions of a fellow employee under the influence of drugs. But does this worker actually have a case?

How Is an Employer Responsible for the Actions of a Drug Addict?

A personnel agency contracted to hire workers for a warehouse in Hartford signed on a new worker at the business. This man was hired to operate a forklift that is used to transport heavy loads of lighting products around the warehouse. On September 19, 2017, that employee knocked over a palette of lighting products that fell 30 feet and landed on another worker. The 800-pound palette caused that employee permanent and lasting injuries.

At first this would seem like just another workers’ compensation case. However, the complex hiring situation at the warehouse has prompted the injured employee to file a lawsuit. That employee claims that the employee who knocked the palette on top of him had used heroin earlier in the day. The forklift operator allegedly tested positive for the drug after the accident occurred and was immediately fired. But the injured worker contests that the staffing agency should have known the man was addicted to heroin.

The injured worker claims that many people knew the forklift operator had a heroin addiction and that the staffing company should have known as well. He accuses the agency of neglect by not conducting regular drug testing on its employees. The lawsuit claims that the injured employee was permanently paralyzed by the incident and is asking for $50 million in compensation. But, if this worker was hired by the same staffing company, his claim could be irrelevant.

The workers’ compensation system in Connecticut is straight forward. A worker cannot sue his employer when a fellow employee has injured him. If the worker that injured him was working for a third-party and not the same employer, then a lawsuit could be filed against that third party. That means this particular case may have a hard time finding success in a Connecticut court if the same staffing company that hired the alleged heroin addict also hired the victim of the accident.

This is why it is important to contact an attorney at the beginning of the process when you have been injured at work. Having an attorney with experience handling Connecticut workers’ compensation cases can help you identify if your claim is normal, or if you need to pursue a third-party lawsuit. And when it comes to taking care of your family and health, this small distinction could make all the difference.

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