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Former AFL Player Shaun Smith Paid $1.4 Million For Concussion Damages

F
ormer AFL player, Shaun Smith, has been paid over $1.4 million after his insurance company found he was “totally and permanently disabled” due to concussion damages he incurred during his playing career.

The 51-year-old was reportedly paid by his insurance company, MLC, who recognised the multiple times he was concussed during his playing career left him unable to ever work again.

Discussing how the brain injury has changed his life, Smith told the ABC he noticed the changes to his moods and memory and the payout has helped him accept the injury was a “real thing”.

“I’m just happy that it’s finally been recognised,” Smith told the ABC.

“I’m a pretty easy-going guy, and I was getting pretty angry at the drop of a hat.

“Then I started forgetting a lot of things, my short-term memory especially was not flash.

“It just goes on and on, and it doesn’t make it much fun for people living around me.

“I just hope that the AFL listen, because it’s people’s health at risk,” he said.

Smith told the Herald Sun he is “eternally grateful” to AFL agent, Peter Jess, who helped on both the financial side and personal side of the claim.

“This just proves that concussion is real, that we are not just making this stuff up,” Smith told the Herald Sun.

“I’m only the tip of the iceberg.

“There are so many others out there who are struggling and deserve to be looked after because it’s not like a knee injury where you walk around with a limp, it affects everything you do.

“The way you think and the way you act.

“It’s not the best.

“But hopefully this will help the others that are out there, too.

“I’m eternally grateful to Peter Jess.

“That guy has saved my life, really.

“Not just with the financial side of things but making me realise that I’m not stupid or going crazy.

“Everyone was sympathetic, but Pete was like, ‘No, this is bulls**t,” he said.

Jess told the Herald Sun a large number of current and former AFL players will be unable to receive similar payouts to Smith’s, despite the scope of their injuries, due to the AFL’s main insurer AMP.

“This should be the game changer,” Jess told the Herald Sun.

“It means you have independent medical experts who say that you can be totally and permanently disabled as a result of multiple concussions suffered while playing AFL football.

“But if Shaun was insured with AMP, he would not have been paid a cent,” he said.

The payout came just weeks after it was revealed the analysis of the late Danny Frawley’s brain showed he had been suffering from Stage Two CTE when he died last year.

Jess told the ABC he is hopeful the case of Smith will generate a deeper discussion into compensation for athletes who have brain injuries from the result of their careers.

“I suspect it will be a benchmark in terms of the acknowledgement inside the sporting community that concussion is a disease that creates long-term damage and has the impact of creating a total and permanent disability,” Jess told the ABC.

“It’s not a transitory disease, it is permanent.

“We know that players can be totally and permanently disabled from playing football.

“Two panels of medical people have looked at Shaun’s case and said the injuries created from playing football were so significant that he’s never be able to work again,” he said.

For more information into the cause and effect of CTE in athletes, click here to listen to Boston University Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) Center director, Dr. Ann McKee, speak to Ministry of Sport founder, Ben Parsons, as part of the Ministry of Sport Brain Health Week, in partnership with Digital Health Organization.