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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Judicial interpretation to protect accident victims

By Xu Wei and Shi Yingying (China Daily)

08:59, March 23, 2012

China's top court has made it clear that victims of drunken driving accidents have a legal right to seek compensation from insurance companies.

The clarification is to provide guidance in hearings and trials involving damage from road accidents.

On Wednesday, the Supreme People's Court publicized a preliminary judicial interpretation on compensation to victims of traffic accidents to solicit public opinion.

The judicial interpretation has made it clear that victims of traffic accidents can seek compensation from insurance companies, even if drivers are later found to have been driving while drunk, driving without a license or using drugs. Insurance companies retain the right to recover losses from the drivers.

In China, third-party insurance, which is designed solely to protect traffic accident victims, is a mandatory requirement and each car must be insured.

Han Qiang, a professor from East China University of Political Science and Law, said though the interpretation is not law, it has equal legally binding power as it provides guidelines to courts.

"It's revolutionary because it strengthens the protection of victims," Han said. "Victims are guaranteed compensation from insurance companies regardless of disputes between insurance firms and drunken drivers - it is double insurance."

There have been repeated media reports of traffic accidents involving drunken driving in which insurance companies were unwilling to compensate victims.

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