Landmark AFL concussion class action explained
LANDMARK CLASS ACTION
* Margalit Injury Lawyers lodged a landmark class action against the Australian Football League in the Supreme Court of Victoria on Tuesday.
* The Victorian law firm is seeking compensation for injuries caused to former players by the impact of concussion for pain and suffering, economic loss and medical expenses.
* The case has been filed on behalf of professional AFL players who suffered concussion-related injuries through head strikes while training or playing AFL between 1985 and March 14 this year.
* Dual Geelong premiership player Max Rooke, 41, is the lead plaintiff and alleges breach of duty and neglect by the AFL.
* Rooke played 135 AFL games between 2002 and 2010 and alleges he suffered concussion on 20 to 30 occasions, including head strikes causing unconsciousness on at least two occasions.
* So far, more than 60 former players have come forward to join the class action.
* Lawyers say there have been long-term injuries suffered by former players, including various neurological impairments.
* Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), traumatic brain injury (TBI) and dementia are listed among sustained injuries.
* There are also psychological issues, including depression, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and suicidal ideation.
WHAT IS CONCUSSION
* Concussion refers to an injury that affects brain function and is usually caused by a direct blow to the head, face or neck, or an impact to the body.
* It can sometimes lead to the deadly neurodegenerative disease CTE.
PLAYERS KNOWN TO BE AFFECTED
* Former Richmond midfielder Shane Tuck died three years ago aged 38 after a battle with his mental health. An autopsy found he had CTE.
* The condition was found in other prominent former players, including Danny Frawley and Graham "Polly" Farmer, who both donated their brains to research.
* In 2020, former Melbourne player Shaun Smith won $1.4m in damages after suffering a series of on-field concussions.
* Last year, former player Ty Zantuck was cleared by the Supreme Court to sue the Richmond Football Club after being diagnosed with suspected CTE in 2021.
* Former Western Bulldogs star Liam Picken recently launched legal action after sustaining multiple concussion symptoms before his 2019 retirement.
* Former AFLW Collingwood vice-captain Emma Grant is also suing after sustaining a head injury in 2020 that may have ended her career.
* Mr Rooke took legal action last week after suffering concussion symptoms.
AFL CONCUSSION POLICY
* In 2021 the AFL expanded its return-to-play protocol that includes a mandatory 11-step, minimum 12-day post-concussion recovery and rehabilitation period for all levels of Australian football.
* The AFL again updated its guidelines on Tuesday and has made more than 30 changes to concussion protocols, tribunal guidelines and on-field rules over the past two decades.
* The Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs is conducting an inquiry into concussion and repeated head trauma in contact sports.
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