Footy great Liam Picken is suing the AFL, his former club and its doctors for failing to protect his health during his 198-game career.
Picken, now aged 36, was a premiership winning player for the Western Bulldogs in 2016 and played for the club from 2009 to 2017.
The AFL champ has made no secret of the impact his stellar career had on his health, declaring in 2020 he would donate his brain to science upon his death to aid future research into concussion.
Liam Picken in May 2017 for the Western Bulldogs. His claims his career was cut short by a brain injury
Liam Picken was knocked out against the Hawks at Mars Stadium on March 3, 2018 in Ballarat. He claims he was put back to work immediately
In documents filed with the Supreme Court of Victoria on Wednesday, Picken alleged the AFL, Bulldogs and its doctors Gary Zimmerman and Jacob Landsberger all failed in their duty of care to protect him from brain injury.
Picken has spoken openly since pulling off the boots about the plight he claims multiple concussions has caused him.
In 2018, he took to social media in the hope of shining a light on the dark sporting subject.
‘Concussion is an extremely complex injury with so many unknowns. It’s also an injury that not many people really understand,’ he wrote.
‘And because it’s an injury with symptoms less visible to others unlike breaking a leg etc, it’s hard for others to understand what you’re going through. In fact, it can be a lonely and dark road to travel.’
Picken has accused the four plaintiffs of breach of duty, negligence and breach of contract.
In an outline of his injuries, the former midfielder stated he had suffered a brain injury with multiple post concussive symptoms, including lethargy, lack of performance poor concentration, irritability, lowering of mood and severe levels of depression, anxiety and stress.
He further suffers from ‘impairment of cognition development of photophobia’ and impairment of sleep and high level attention capacity.
Picken goes down in a sickening clash against the Hawks
Picken claims it was his brain injury that ended his AFL career in April 2019.
‘The Plaintiff as a consequence of his injuries has been totally incapacitated from undertaking placements consistent with his academic, vocational and commercial training,’ the writ stated.
Picken had obtained under graduate and a masters degree in international finance and business, which he had hoped to rely on after football.
His lawyers have claimed loss of earnings up until now and continuing to retirement age.
Picken has outlined a series of on field incidents he claims were mishandled by the Bulldogs dating back to 2011.
Despite tests indicating he had performed under the normal ranges for human brains, Picken claims he was put back to work immediately.
Picken claims he was not referred to experts in sport related concussion or referred for an MRI for further testing.
Picken is helped from the field after a brutal clash against Fremantle
Picken was injured after slamming into a goal umpire in 2013
The former player highlighted a particularly sickening incident during a 20017 clash with Freemantle.
The premiership hero was concussed when Tommy Sheridan landed on his head in the second quarter and was left laying alone on the Subiaco turf as play continued around him.
Picken claims that clash left him with a ‘clear diagnosis of brain injury or concussion’.
Despite the severity of the blow, Picken claims he was not provided with a SCAT 3 test – a test used to assess concussions in athletes.
‘The (AFL) knew or ought have known that the Plaintiff suffered a brain injury or concussion in the 8 April 2017 incident,’ the writ stated.
Picken further claimed the Bulldogs also knew it.
Five days after that incident, Picken claims he underwent a Digital Cognitive Assessment, which recommended he wait for symptoms to resolve before taking another after-injury test.
Those test results were never provided to him and he immediately returned to full training.
Picken was knocked out against the Hawks in Ballarat
Liam Picken and Annie Nolan arrive at the 2016 Brownlow Medal. Picken claims his wife’s concerns were ignored by the Bulldogs
Picken claims he received similar treatment following a nasty head clash against the Hawks in 2018.
Picken has slammed the AFL for failing to develop rules, policies and procedures in respect to dealing with concussion.
He further claimed the AFL had failed to enforce rules, policies and procedures and ensure clubs abided by them.
Picken claimed the league needed to provide education to clubs and players to concussive symptoms and risks associated with returning to play and require certification for fitness to play from qualified experts in sports concussion.
In a list of damning accusations put to the AFL, Picken claims his own wife’s concerns had been repeatedly ignored by the club.
He also blasted the club doctors, stating they failed in their duty of care in 10 different ways, including clearing him to play football when he was clearly unwell.
The AFL did not respond to Daily Mail Australia’s questions.
PICKEN ON DEALING WITH CONCUSSION
In a 2018 tweet, Picken outlined the trauma of repeated head injuries.
‘Then a small minority don’t recover from concussion as quickly and have a longer road to recovery. Those people are usually diagnosed with post concussion syndrome, like me,’ he said.
Picken detailed the long list of symptoms that had been causing him problems.
‘Some of the symptoms that have impacted me have been light and noise sensitivity, noise ringing in my ears, vision, headaches, migraines, mental wellness, memory function and impaired balance,’ he wrote.
‘Some of these I still have and others I’ve fully recovered from. I’m hoping it‘s any day now.
‘But one of the hardest aspects of post concussion syndrome is not knowing when you’ll get better. People still ask what’s going on with me or why I’m not playing yet. And although it’s been made clear to me that I’m on the road to full health, the timeline is unclear.”
He hoped him speaking out would help other people who suffer from concussion understand.
‘I just want to encourage anyone that may have been hit, suffered concussion and doesn’t feel 100% to speak up and seek help,’ he said.
‘And hopefully my transparency has helped others that may be feeling alone in their journey.’
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