No.4 of Four Model Cases Published by the Supreme People's Court: Zeng Mingqing v. Peng Youhong and Ping An Property & Casualty Insurance Company of China，Ltd. Sichuan Shudu Branch (case of disputes over liability for a traffic accident of motor vehicles)
Instrument Type： Judgment
Procedural Status： Trial at Second Instance
- Date Issued：07-24-2014
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- [Key Terms] hit and run; joint and several liability; full liability for satisfaction
- [核心术语] 肇事逃逸;连带责任;全部清偿责任
- [Disputed Issues] Where a victim in a traffic accident dies after being run over by more than one motor vehicle, if all the perpetrators except the last one hit and run, should the last perpetrator be held solely liable therefor?
- [争议焦点] 交通事故受害人遭多辆车先后碾压后死亡，除最后一名肇事者外，其他肇事者均逃逸的情况下，是否应由最后一名肇事者承担全部责任？
- [Case Summary] A victim in a traffic accident dies after being run over by more than one motor vehicle, but it is difficult to determine which perpetrator's act directly causes the death of the victim. In other words, each perpetrator's act has a possibility of depriving the victim of life. Under the provisions of Article 11 of the Tort Liability Law, where two or more persons commit torts respectively, causing the same harm, and each tort is sufficient to cause the entire harm, the tortfeasors shall be liable jointly and severally. If more than one person is liable jointly and severally, each person should be liable for discharging all the debts and the relationship among them is joint and several. Therefore, if a victim in a traffic accident dies after being run over by more than one motor vehicle, all the perpetrators should be jointly and severally liable for the death of the victim and obliged to assume the full liability for satisfaction. If other perpetrators all hit and run, the last perpetrator with the joint and several liability should be held solely liable for the death of the victim.
- [案例要旨] 交通事故受害人遭多辆车先后碾压后死亡，无法确定具体是哪一名肇事者的碾压行为直接导致了受害人的死亡，即每一名肇事者的碾压行为均有可能导致受害人死亡结果的发生。根据《侵权责任法》第十一条规定，“二人以上分别实施侵权行为造成同一损害，每个人的侵权行为都足以造成全部损害的，行为人承担连带责任。”连带责任人为多人时，每个人都负有清偿全部债务的责任，各责任人之间有连带关系。因此，交通事故受害人遭多辆车先后碾压后死亡，多名肇事者应对受害人的死亡承担连带责任，均负有承担全部清偿责任的义务。在其他肇事者均逃逸的情况下，最后一名肇事者作为连带责任人，应承担受害人死亡的全部责任。
- No.4 of Four Model Cases Published by the Supreme People's Court: Zeng Mingqing v. Peng Youhong and Chengdu City Shudu Branch of China Ping An Property Insurance Co., Ltd. (Case of Dispute over Traffic Accident Liability of Motor Vehicles)
- I. Basic Facts
- Around 19:00 on October 10, 2011, after a truck with an unknown plate driven by an unknown driver hit Zeng who crossed the street, the unknown driver escaped; afterwards, a motor vehicle with an unknown plate driven by another unknown driver crushed Zeng who fell to the ground and then the unknown driver also ran away. Around 19:05, when Peng Youhong drove his small car (plate: Chuan A211R9) (to which he has purchased the compulsory traffic accident liability insurance and the third-party liability insurance with the irrespective deductible quota of 200,000 yuan) passing the accident section, due to failure of braking in time, the car crushed over the body of Zeng who fell down to ground in the middle of the road (according to Peng Youhong, the crush position was Zeng's chest), and Peng Youhong immediately stopped the car and called the police. On 19:21, medical care personnel arrived at the scene and upon rescue on the scene, it was determined that Zeng had no vital signs. A death certificate was issued, on which it was indicated that Zeng died on 19:34. The traffic police department also inspected and took pictures of the scene, and prepared the scene drawing. It was shown in the aforesaid materials that it was an urban road, which had bidirectional eight lanes and was separated by double full lines in the center; there was no pedestrian crossing near the accident scene; and the bloodstain, the place where Zeng fell to the ground, and the vehicle (Chuan A211R9) were all located in the lane close to the double lines and there was no drag mark around. On October 19, the Sichuan Genegle Forensic Expertise House issued a Report on DNA Identification, with the identification opinions that “The bloodstain sample took from the lower part of the front bumper and the wheel of the car (Chuan A211R9) belonged to Zeng.” On October 26, the Material Evidence Verification House of the Chengdu Public Security Bureau issued a Report on Postmortem Examination, which specified the examination opinions that “As deduced, Zeng died of compound injuries of brain, chest and stomach. It was proposed that an autopsy should be conducted to specify the means resulting in the death.” However, upon consultation between Peng Youhong and Zeng's relatives, the autopsy was not conducted. On November 14, 2011, the traffic police department issued a Written Conclusion on the Road Traffic Accident and determined that unknown drivers should all assume full liabilities of the accident on the ground that such unknown drivers ran away after the accident occurred. It was also specified in the Written Conclusion on the Road Traffic Accident that: Peng Youhong failed to ensure safety and violated the provisions of paragraph 1 of Article 22 of the Road Traffic Safety Law; and since it failed to confirm whether Zeng's death was caused by the hit of the car (Chuan A211R9), the liabilities of Peng Youhong failed to determined on the basis of the role of Peng Youhong's act in the traffic accident and the severity of Peng Youhong's fault. Owing to failure to find the runaway vehicles, Zeng Mingqing, father of Zeng and sole heir of Zeng, instituted a lawsuit in the court and requested the court to order that Peng Youhong and Shudu Branch of Ping An Property Insurance should pay a total of 424,576.50 yuan for various losses caused by Zeng's death.
- 2011年10月10日19时左右，未知名驾驶人驾驶未知号牌货车与横穿马路的曾**相撞后逃逸；后有未知名驾驶人驾驶未知号牌机动车碾压倒地的曾**后亦逃逸。19时05分许，***驾驶自有的川A211R9号小型轿车（该车在平安财保蜀都支公司投保了交强险和不计免赔限额为20万元的商业三者险）途经事发路段时，由于刹车不及，从已倒在道路中间的曾**身上碾压过去（其自述碾压部位为曾**胸部），随即停车报警。19时21分，医护人员到场，经现场抢救，确定曾**已无生命体征，出具了死亡证明书，载明曾**死亡时间为19时34分。交警部门亦对现场进行了勘验、拍照，并制作了现场图，上述材料显示：道路基本情况为城市道路，双向8车道，道路中心由双实线分隔，事故现场附近无人行横道，路上血迹、曾**倒地位置、川A211R9号车辆均位于靠近双实线的车道内，周围无拖拉痕迹。同月19日，四川基因格司法鉴定所出具《DNA鉴定报告》，鉴定意见为：川A211R9轿车前保险杠下部和轮胎上提取的血痕样本属于曾**。同月26日，成都市公安局物证鉴定所出具《尸检报告》，载明检验意见为：“推断曾**的死因为颅脑、胸腹部复合性损伤致死亡，建议进行尸体解剖明确致死方式。”但经***与曾**亲属协商，未进行尸体解剖。2011年11月14日，交警部门出具《道路交通事故认定书》，以未知名驾驶人肇事后逃逸为由，确定未知名驾驶人均承担事故的全部责任。该《道路交通事故认定书》还载明：***驾车未确保安全，违反了《道路交通安全法》第二十二条第一款的规定；由于无法证实曾**死亡是否因与川A211R9号车相撞所致，故不能根据当事人的行为对发生交通事故所起的作用及过错的严重程度确定当事人的责任。由于未找到逃逸车辆，曾**之父***（系曾**的唯一继承人）向法院起诉，请求判令***、平安财保蜀都支公司赔偿因曾**死亡造成的各项损失合计424 576.50元。
- II. Judgment
- After the second-instance hearing , the Intermediate People's Court of Chengdu City held that: Before Peng Youhong crushed Zeng when driving a vehicle, unknown drivers have hit Zeng in succession and escaped. Although such unknown drivers and Peng Youhong had no joint intent or joint negligence, the harm caused by each person separately constituted a tort on Zeng independently and finally caused the consequence of Zeng's death. Such consequence was inseparable and each harm was the direct cause for the consequence, that is, the act of each tortfeasor was sufficient to cause Zeng's death. Therefore, it was not improper that the original judgment determined that Peng Youhong and hit-and-run drivers should be jointly and severally liable for compensation in accordance with Article 11 of the Tort Law of the People's Republic of China (hereinafter referred to as the “Tort Law”) that “where two or more persons commit torts respectively, causing the same harm, and each tort is sufficient to cause the entire harm, the tortfeasors shall be liable jointly and severally.” To outsiders, joint and several liability was an overall liability and each person subject to joint and several liability was obliged to assume the full liability for the victim of the tort. The jointly and severally liable person that was requested to assume the full liability might not claim that he or she should assume liability only within his or her share of interior liability based on the severity of his or her fault. Under the circumstance where other perpetrators have escaped, Zeng Mingqing requested that Peng Youhong should assume full liabilities of all tortfeasors, which conformed to the provisions of law. Therefore, the second-instance court entered a judgment holding that: (1) Shudu Branch of Ping An Property Insurance should pay plaintiff Zeng Mingqing 310,212 yuan within ten days after this judgment came into force; and (2) Peng Youhong should pay Zeng Mingqing 8,099.60 yuan within ten days after the judgment came into force.
- III. Significance
- This case once attracted great concerns in the hearing and some media made headline reports of this case by simplifying it to “death of an elderly by crushes of three vehicles and the third vehicle accountable after the first and second vehicles escaped.” Proceeding from general emotional feelings, the public held that it was unreasonable for the third vehicle to assume full liabilities because it might encourage such social psychology of “whoever rescued fell on evil days” and “bad things happened to good people.” However, from the perspective of facts, when the third vehicle crushed the victim, the victim was not dead and it failed to determine that the act of which vehicle caused the death of the victim; according to such evidence as the Report on Postmortem Examination and the inspection transcript, it might be determined that the crush of each vehicle was sufficient to cause the consequence of the victim's death. It was cumulative causation as prescribed in Article 11 of the Tort Law and tortfeasors needed to assume joint and several liabilities. After discovering the crush consequences, Peng Youhong stopped his vehicle and called the police in a timely manner, which was a good faith behavior of fulfilling citizens' responsibilities and was worthy of appreciation and recommendation. With regard to the accident consequences, because of the sharing system of the compulsory traffic accident liability insurance and the commercial third-party insurance, the compensation liability assumed by the vehicle owner was not heavy actually. However, for the hit-and-run unknown drivers, on the one hand, they were legally hit-and-run criminal suspects and were likely to be captured at any time; and on the other hand, they would always be tormented in heart and could not be at ease after they escaped. Compared to voluntary rescue, the consequence of run-away would be more serious.