Former Western Bulldog Liam Picken takes legal action against AFL, doctors and club after suffering concussion

Former Western Bulldogs Premiership player Liam Picken has taken legal action against the AFL, his former club and his club doctors over concussions he suffered during his career.

Picken played 198 games for the club but retired permanently in 2019 due to persistent concussion symptoms.

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Picken, who is just 36, suffered multiple concussions throughout his career and claims he has returned to the field despite suffering from concussions throughout his career.

Picken’s attorneys claimed he returned several erratic cognitive test scores during his career, but were not made aware of them.

Picken also reportedly suffers from photophobia, or an aversion to bright light.

In documents filed with Victoria High Court on Wednesday, Picken alleges the club and doctors failed in their duty of care to him.

Michael Tanner, principal attorney at National Compensation Lawyers, told The Age Picken he was unaware of the extent of his head injuries.

“From Liam’s point of view, no cognitive assessment he’s ever taken has made him aware of his failure. Additionally, he didn’t necessarily understand the full extent of his injuries or his symptoms,” Tanner said.

“He has expressed concern about his symptoms. The then medical advice was (it was) still playable.”

Liam Picken’s career ended after a concussion, he claims. Image: Tony GoughSource: News Corp Australia

The AFL doubled its concussion standstill policy from six days in 2020 to 12 in 2021, but has long come under scrutiny.

Picken also highlighted two concussions as particularly egregious, pointing to the 2017 third-round clash against Fremantle and a preseason game against Hawthorn at Ballarat in March 2018.

In the 2017 incident, Picken suffered a concussion when Tommy Sheridan landed on the former bulldog’s head, which he claims left him with a “clear diagnosis of brain injury or concussion.”

However, he claimed he had not been tested for concussion with an SCAT-3 test and five days after the incident he had been fully trained again following a digital cognitive assessment. He said the test’s recommendation was to wait for symptoms to subside, but claimed he had not been provided with the results.

The 2018 incident was a nasty head crash, but the results were similar.

In 2018, Picken’s wife Annie Nolan also outlined to The Herald Sun the impact of her husband’s concussions.

“The worst thing for me is that I wasn’t there when he actually knocked, but all three of our kids were in the cheer squad, so I heard the story through the cheer squad,” she said.

“Mally knew straight away, and apparently he was like, ‘Get up dad, get up dad,’ but the cheer squad members all circled the girls to protect them from seeing.”

Pickens lap of honor with his children after his retirement in 2019. Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

“The girls didn’t see that it was Liam, but then as Liam was being carried away, Delphi asked, ‘Where are they taking that dead man?’

“It sounds so dramatic, but I cried when I heard that because she didn’t know it was her father.”

Picken is reportedly asking for lost earnings and ongoing medical tests from now until retirement age.

He is not the first player to take legal action, as former Collingwood AFLW vice captain Emma Grant launched a civil suit after a concussion in the 2020 preseason led to her early retirement.

A class action lawsuit was uncovered last month in which Margalit Injury Lawyers chief executive, Michel Margalit, claimed the firm had been “inundated” with claims of life-changing head injuries suffered by former players.

“Many, many years ago, action should have been taken to not only change protocols, improve education, but also provide financial support to people once injured, but also deter them from playing again too soon,” Margalit told SENs Whateley.

Margalit referred to class action lawsuits filed by former NFL players who had received more than $1 billion in compensation.

“We look at the types of compensation that have been obtained internationally. For the NFL class action in the US, initial settlements there totaled nearly (USD)1 billion,” Ms. Margalit added.

“That’s a very realistic number for this class action lawsuit.”

The likes of Danny Frawley, Shane Tuck and Polly Farmer have been diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) after their deaths. Former Western Bulldog Liam Picken takes legal action against AFL, doctors and club after suffering concussion

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