Across China: No more rural-urban gap in personal injury compensation

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BEIJING, May 23 (Xinhua) -- Thanks to the legal move to unify the standards of personal injury compensation, claims doubled for injured rural woman Zhong Qing (pseudonym).

The 31-year-old Zhong lives with her mother and daughter in Datang Village in the suburb of Changsha, capital of central China's Hunan Province. As her family's sole breadwinner, she makes a living by farming and running an online store.

However, a car accident crashed Zhong's calm life last February.

Had Changsha not implemented the pilot regulation setting equal compensation standards for rural and urban victims, Zhong would have only received about 56,000 yuan (about 8,298 U.S. dollars) for her claims, noted the judge of the local primary court.

From September 2019, authorized by the Supreme People's Court (SPC), the modified personal injury compensation regulation was piloted by provincial higher people's courts.

Owing to the pilot regulation, the local court decided to award Zhong over 120,000 yuan in claims, which took into account work loss costs, medical costs and dependent care expenses in accordance with urban residents' living standards in Hunan.

The pilot regulation turned into an official rule applicable nationally, which has been effective from May 1 and covers a broader scope of personal injuries.

The SPC stipulates that rural residents should receive equal compensatory damages with urban counterparts according to standards of each provincial-level region in personal injury cases resulting in disability, death and dependent expenses. The specific amount is calculated based on urban residents' per capita disposable income or consumption expenditure a year before the injury.

The compensation system earlier drew a distinction between rural and urban victims. The previous legislative approach followed the idea that compensation was to remedy household income loss, and urban victims with generally higher average earnings were likely to suffer to a greater extent.

In a judicial review before the official regulation's implementation, the National People's Congress said the differences in compensation between urban and rural residents should be eliminated, along with the narrower urban-rural gap in development levels and living standards.

"Unified personal injury compensation ensures equal legal protection for rural and urban residents, and this signals the progress of the society," said Li Ji, a police officer in charge of traffic accidents in north China's Tianjin Municipality.

Li cited an inter-region case in February during which a rural resident from neighboring Hebei Province died in a car crash in Tianjin.

Under the pilot regulation and police's mediation, the victim's relatives received compensation based on Tianjin urban residents' living standards, through negotiation with the driver and the insurance company.

In judicial practice, rural plaintiffs no longer need to prove that their claims should adapt to urban standards, thus victims are relieved of the burden of proof, said Duan Haobo, vice presiding judge of a civil court of Tianjin Higher People's Court. For the judiciary, uniform rule improves the efficiency of court decisions.

"The non-discriminatory compensation standards reflect fairness and justice," Duan added. Enditem

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