AFL legend Gary Ablett senior is suing the league and his former clubs Geelong and Hawthorn for concussions he says gave him brain damage. His action is brought before the Victorian Supreme Court. Other AFL players alleging brain injuries are following suit.
What can be made of this. Contact sports expose players to the risk of injury. In the High Court case of Agar v Hyde, Chief Justice Gleeson stated “People who pursue recreational activities regarded as sports often do so in hazardous circumstances; the element of danger may add to the enjoyment of the activity. Accepting risk, sometimes to a high degree, is part of many sports.”
Voluntary participation knowing risks
The doctrine of the voluntary assumption of risk prevails when individuals voluntarily participate in sports knowing that there are risks of injury. The doctrine provides a complete defence to negligence claims. Where there is an obvious risk objectively determined on a reasonable person basis, goes towards establishing knowledge on the part of the plaintiff but does not mean consent.
These are early days for AFL players seeking compensation in the game they loved playing for their adoring AFL followers. The trickle down to club level sport will keep the plaintiff lawyers thought the day and night for plaintiff lawyers and defence lawyers preparing legal briefs for many years.