Footballing great Liam Picken is suing the AFL, his former club and his doctors for failing to protect his health during his 198-game career.
Picken, now 36, was a first-place winner for the Western Bulldogs in 2016 and played for the club from 2009 to 2017.
The AFL champion has made no secret of the impact his stellar career had on his health, declaring in 2020 that he would donate his brain to science after his death to aid future concussion research.
Liam Picken in May 2017 for the Western Bulldogs. He claims that 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 they put him back on the job right away.
In papers filed with the Victorian Supreme Court on Wednesday, Picken alleged that the AFL, Bulldogs and his doctors Gary Zimmerman and Jacob Landsberger failed in their duty to protect him from brain injury.
Picken has been outspoken since taking off his boots about the plight that he claims has caused him multiple concussions.
In 2018, he took to social media in hopes of shedding light on the dark topic of sports.
‘Concussion is an extremely complex injury with so many unknowns. It is also an injury that not many people really understand,” she wrote.
“And because it’s an injury with less visible symptoms to others, as opposed to 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 a summary of his injuries, the former midfielder said he had suffered a brain injury with multiple post-concussion symptoms, including lethargy, lack of performance, poor concentration, irritability, depression, and severe levels of depression, anxiety and stress. .
In addition, he suffers from “cognitive developmental impairment from photophobia” and impaired sleep and high-level attention span.
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.
‘As a consequence of his injuries, the Plaintiff has been left totally incapacitated to carry out practices consistent with his academic, vocational and commercial training,’ says the brief.
Picken had earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in finance and international business, which he hoped to rely on after football.
His lawyers have claimed lost earnings so far and continue until retirement age.
Picken has described a series of incidents on the field that he claims the Bulldogs mishandled since 2011.
Despite tests indicating that it had performed below the normal ranges for the human brain, Picken says they put it back to work immediately.
Picken claims he was not referred to experts in sports-related concussions or an MRI for further testing.
Picken is assisted from the field after a brutal clash against Fremantle
Picken was injured after colliding with a goal referee in 2013
The former player highlighted a particularly sickening incident during a 2017 clash with Freemantle.
The hero of the presidency suffered a concussion when Tommy Sheridan landed on his head in the second quarter and was left alone on the Subiaco turf as the game continued around him.
Picken claims the crash 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 should have known that the claimant suffered a brain injury or concussion in the incident on April 8, 2017,” the brief said.
Picken further claimed that the Bulldogs knew about it as well.
Five days after that incident, Picken says he underwent a digital cognitive assessment, which advised him to wait for the symptoms to resolve before taking another post-injury test.
The results of those tests were never provided to him and he immediately returned to his full training.
Picken was eliminated against the Hawks in Ballarat
Liam Picken and Annie Nolan arrive at 2016 Brownlow Medal. Picken claims Bulldogs ignored his wife’s concerns
Picken claims he received similar treatment after a nasty butt of heads against the Hawks in 2018.
Picken has criticized the AFL for failing to develop rules, policies and procedures regarding the treatment of concussions.
He further claimed that the AFL had failed to enforce the rules, policies and procedures and had failed to ensure that the clubs complied with them.
Picken asserted that the league needed to educate clubs and players on concussion symptoms and risks associated with returning to play and require fitness to play certification from qualified sports concussion experts.
In a list of damning allegations brought to the AFL, Picken claims the club had repeatedly ignored his own wife’s concerns.
He also criticized the club’s doctors, stating they failed in their duty of care in 10 different ways, including being cleared to play football when he was clearly unwell.
The AFL did not respond to questions from Daily Mail Australia.
PICKED UP IN THE TREATMENT OF CONCUSSION
In a 2018 tweet, Picken described the trauma of repeated head injuries.
“So 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,” she said.
Picken detailed the long list of symptoms that had been giving him trouble.
“Some of the symptoms that have affected me have been sensitivity to light and noise, ringing in the ears, vision, headaches, migraines, mental well-being, memory function and balance issues,” he wrote.
‘Some of these I still have and others I have fully recovered from. I hope it’s one of these days.
“But one of the most difficult aspects of post-concussion syndrome is not knowing when it will get better. People still ask what’s wrong with me or why I’m not playing yet. And while it has been made clear to me that I am on the path to full health, the timeline is unclear.”
I hoped that speaking would help other people with concussions to understand.
“I just want to encourage anyone who has been hit, has had a concussion, and isn’t feeling 100% to speak up and get help,” he said.
“And I hope my transparency has helped others who may feel alone on their journey.”