Many years ago, I remember driving through the state of Pennsylvania. As you entered the state, there was a menu which described the fines for speeding. It was memorable because you could decide what level of fine you were willing to risk by going 5, 10, or 50 mph over the speed limit. It was a tantalizing risk vs. reward exercise.

Many employers in Illinois may not be aware that there exists such a “menu” for workers compensation claims. It’s all spelled out in the Illinois Workers Comp Act. (This concept applies to most states.)

For example, let’s choose a hypothetical full-time $15 per hour worker. At $600 per week, he would be eligible for 66.67% of his weekly wages ($400) for a length of time that is determined by the injury.


Thumb: 162 weeks = $64,800
First (index) finger: 76 weeks = $30,400
Big toe: 38 weeks: $15,200
Hand: 205 weeks: $82,000
Eye: 162 weeks: $64,800

You can read the whole list in the Act on page 65.

Of course, this is only the disability cost.

The employer also bears the cost of hospitals, doctors and the entire treatment, as well as business disruption, and, not to mention, someone got hurt!

There are a lot of moving parts to the Workers Compensation Act, and this perhaps oversimplifies it, but it does not change the fact that a workers comp claim can be devastating.

As long as you are reading the Act, take a look also at the section entitled “Intoxication” on page 42.

No compensation shall be payable if

(i) the employee’s intoxication is the proximate cause of the employee’s accidental injury.

Is this a big deal for employers? YES! If an employer can show that the employee was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident, it is assumed that the substance was the cause of the accident and the claim can be denied.

Always do a post-accident drug and alcohol test.

Better yet, why not reduce the chances of one of these claims altogether?

But what if the injured party is not, in fact, the user?

The National Safety Council reported that 80 percent of those injured in “serious” drug-related accidents at work are not the drug abusing employees but innocent coworkers and others.

In case you don’t know where I’m going with this, drug testing reduces the chances of an impaired employee causing a workers comp claim. And it costs a whole lot less.

It’s no joke. Workers Compensation claims are expensive. And many can be prevented at a fraction of the cost. Your non-using employees will be grateful.

Contact InOut Labs for more information on drug and alcohol testing.