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Can I receive benefits if I was drunk when I suffered my injury?

On Behalf of | Mar 8, 2024 | Workers' Compensation |

Being injured on the job is a fear of many workers. However, if that injury occurred while you were drunk or high on the job, can that affect whether you qualify for California workers’ compensation benefits.

Intoxication’s impact

California Labor Code, Section 3600(a)(4), states that injuries caused by an employee’s intoxication from alcohol or illicit substances may not be compensable. This means benefits could be denied if intoxication is deemed the primary cause of your workplace injury.

Establishing intoxication’s role

However, just because the worker was intoxicated does not destroy their entitlement to workers’ compensation benefits. Instead, employers must prove that intoxication significantly contributed to the injury for their defense to succeed. This typically requires evidence like toxicology reports, witness statements or video footage demonstrating the employee’s impaired state during the workplace injury incident.

Burden of proof

It is crucial to note that the burden of proof rests with the employer, who must demonstrate intoxication’s substantial influence on the injury. The standard of proof is typically “preponderance of the evidence,” which is essentially, more likely than not, or above 50%.

Case-specific analysis

The Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board evaluates intoxication defenses on a case-by-case basis, considering factors such as the type, amount of substances consumed and the employee’s behavior before the injury. And, the employer must provide evidence that their employee’s intoxication destroyed their entitlement to receive California workers’ compensation benefits.


If you were drunk or high during your workplace injury, and your employer is denying your workers’ compensation claim for just that reason alone, this is not allowed in California. You still have rights and entitlements. And, it is their burden to prove that your intoxication was the cause of the workplace injury.