In the last decade, cumulative trauma disorders have become a significant percentage of reported workplace injuries and litigated workers'compensation claims. Arising from the accumulated impact of daily work activities on the body, these injuries do not fall neatly within "disease" categories which comprise workers' compensation laws. As a result, courts and legislatures have struggled to properly evaluate workers' compensation claims for these injuries. This Note looks at the legal treatment of cumulative trauma injuries in light of the "original bargain" of workers' compensation, where workers give up a tort remedy against their employers in exchange for guaranteed, but limited, compensation for work-related injuries. In doing so, this Note undertakes a comprehensive comparison of litigated cumulative trauma cases in the tort and workers' compensation systems. Utimately, this Note argues that judges must use the original bargain as an interpretative lens when deciding cumulative trauma cases, and points to ergonomics-the science of the workplace-as a significant new tool for determining whether such injuries are work-related.

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101 Columbia Law Review 1140-1180 (2001)