Do You Need to Take a Drug Test to Get Workers’ Comp in Colorado?

Employers in Colorado hold the authority to conduct drug tests on employees for various reasons, regardless of any specific cause. These drug tests can be administered during the job application process, randomly, and following workplace accidents. Additionally, employers can request drug testing when a worker files for workers’ compensation, potentially impacting their eligibility for financial benefits. While Colorado law grants employers significant leeway in drug testing, there are certain limitations and procedures they must adhere to. This article aims to provide an in-depth understanding of drug testing regulations in Colorado, covering topics such as the timing of tests, employee rights, consequences of failing a drug test for workers’ compensation, and the appeals process.

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When Do Employees Get Drug Tested in Colorado?

Under Colorado law, employers enjoy substantial freedom in conducting drug and alcohol tests within the workplace. As an “open” state, there are no specific restrictions or prerequisites imposed on employers when it comes to testing employees for drug use. Before an employer files a workers’ compensation claim on behalf of an injured worker, they possess the right to request a drug test to determine whether drug use played a role in the occupational accident or injury. However, it is essential for employers to already have a written policy in place regarding worker drug testing in relation to workers’ compensation and unemployment benefits.

Can You Refuse to Take a Drug Test?

If you believe that being subjected to a drug test before filing a workers’ compensation claim violates your rights as an employee in Colorado, you have the option to refuse. For instance, if your employer did not previously establish a written policy for drug testing, you can utilize this as grounds to decline taking the test. However, if there was a preexisting written policy, refusing the drug test may result in potential repercussions, including termination. Violating an employer’s policies without consequences may lead to penalties. Furthermore, it is not possible to sue an employer for having a clearly defined, written policy outlining their right to drug test workers’ compensation candidates.

What Happens if You Fail a Drug Test for Workers’ Comp?

If you undergo a mandatory drug test while applying for workers’ compensation benefits in Colorado, and the results indicate the presence of intoxicants in your system, this can negatively impact your ability to receive workers’ compensation benefits. According to Colorado law, your workers’ compensation benefits may be reduced by up to 50 percent if you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident. This reduction can affect both your lost wages and medical payment benefits. However, with the assistance of an attorney, you may be able to contest this outcome.

An attorney can aid in establishing that you were not under the influence of the drug detected during the test at the time of your accident. For instance, if marijuana was found in your system, it does not necessarily imply that you were impaired during the incident. THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana, can remain detectable in the body for up to 30 days. Additionally, your attorney can argue that your work-related injury would have occurred irrespective of the drugs present in your system. By navigating a positive drug test result during a workers’ compensation claim, an attorney can help minimize its impact on your financial benefits.

Can You Appeal a Claim Denial?

It is not uncommon for workers’ compensation claims in Colorado to be initially denied. Insurance companies often seek ways to safeguard their profits, which can lead to wrongfully rejecting valid claims. If your case involves a positive drug test result, the likelihood of the Division of Workers’ Compensation denying benefits increases. However, you possess the right to appeal this decision.

Filing an appeal for a workers’ compensation decision can prompt an internal review and potentially reverse the rejection. Alternatively, it may lead to a hearing before an administrative law judge, where you or your attorney will need to present a compelling argument justifying your eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits despite the positive drug test or refusal to take the test. To strengthen your case during the appeal process, it is advisable to seek the assistance of a workers’ compensation lawyer who can help build and articulate your argument effectively.


Understanding the intricacies of drug testing regulations in Colorado is essential for both employers and employees. Employers have the right to conduct drug tests in various situations, including during the job application process, randomly, and after workplace accidents. However, they must follow specific procedures and have written policies in place to ensure compliance with workers’ compensation and unemployment benefit requirements. Employees, on the other hand, possess the right to refuse a drug test under certain circumstances, but they must be aware of the potential consequences.

Failing a drug test when filing for workers’ compensation can impact the amount of benefits an employee may receive. However, with the guidance of a skilled attorney, it is possible to challenge the results and minimize their effect on financial compensation. In the event of a claim denial, employees have the right to appeal the decision, and seeking legal representation can significantly enhance their chances of a favorable outcome.

By staying informed about drug testing laws in Colorado and seeking professional assistance when needed, both employers and employees can navigate this complex aspect of the workplace with greater clarity and ensure their rights are protected throughout the process.

Colorado Workers’ Compensation Attorneys

If you sustained a workplace injury or illness, Colorado law gives you the right to file a work comp claim to obtain medical care and recover lost wages. Our experienced Colorado workers’ compensation lawyers help clients pursue claims for workplace accidents, repetitive use injuries and work-related illnesses. At Front Range Injury Attorneys we advocate for clients across Colorado and across a wide range of industries and occupations.

Contact our law firm for a free consultation to discuss your claim. You can speak with our attorneys at no cost and no obligation to understand your legal rights.

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