A former professional jockey seriously injured during a race fall is still fighting to earn a decent wage, cover his treatment and ongoing medical expenses because insurers have denied his claim.
Russell Hanson, who had worked as a jockey for 30 years, was knocked from his horse, Get off the Couch, during a meet at Esperance on Boxing Day 2012, by a rider who carelessly allowed her horse to ride across his.
The other jockey later pleaded guilty to a charge of careless riding at a Steward’s Inquiry.
But now, Mr Hanson faces an uphill battle because insurers for the guilty rider deny he has a claim, saying he does not qualify because he was participating in a high-risk activity (sport).
Mr Hanson suffered a series of injuries including fractures, torn muscles and ligaments in his left ankle, aggravation and degeneration in part of his spine, nerve damage in his neck, a left shoulder injury, two fractured ribs and depression.
“I was four lengths wide and then the other horse came right across mine and clipped its front legs out,” Mr Hanson said.
The 50-year-old from Kalgoorlie – who has won on winning horses in the Kalgoorlie, Esperance and Albany cups – is unable to get back on a horse.
“I still remember the day the doctor said you’ll never ride again, it definitely made me sit back in my chair,” he said. “I’ve been doing this since I was 16.”
Mr Hanson said the news was devastating given the effort, preparation and professionalism that went into being jockey. It has also been made worse by the fact that doctors have told him his ongoing pain is only expected to get worse over the next few years.
“I’ve been back to the doctor a thousand times,” Mr Hanson said. “And it’s only going to get worse as I get older.”
“It’s not just a fun sport, it’s a normal job, we are professional jockeys, the effort that we go to train, prepare and during a race is hard work, it’s not fun.”
Slater and Gordon lawyer Kenneth Rukunga said Mr Hanson has a long list of injuries that will plague him for the rest of his life.
“Mr Hanson was trained at a high level to receive a wage and earn a living as a jockey,” Mr Rukunga said.
“The other rider has pleaded guilty to dangerously riding, causing Russell's injuries.
“It is simply unjust for an insurer to deny him justice for an incident that occurred in the course of his work.
“Unfortunately delay and denial tactics by insurers are not new, but we will continue to fight for Mr Hanson to ensure that he has the ongoing support that he needs for the rest of his life.”