We’ve seen the dashcam footage of people throwing themselves in front of cars
in Russia in order to cash in on a driver’s car insurance.
Now in China, a new disturbing trend has evolved where anyone helping an old person who has fallen over risks being blamed for knocking them down and then sued.
There is even a joke circulating on China’s social media that says the new criterion for judging a person’s wealth is whether he or she has the guts to help an elderly person, the Associated Press
Because of this trend, e-commerce giant Alibaba has partnered up with insurance company Hua’an to introduce a one-year, three-yuan (50 cent) insurance plan that covers up to 20,000 yuan in litigation fees.
The novelty insurance product has attracted more than 60,000 buyers since going on sale last week.
“Many people want to do good deeds by helping the elderly to their feet, but they are also worried about getting scammed,” said Xu Ting, product manager at Alibaba.
“We hope the insurance plan can help reduce some financial costs by paying for litigation fees that can help restore the facts.”
One of the best known cases occurred in 2007 in Nanjing where a young man took an old woman to a hospital after she fell at a bus stop.
The woman demanded that the man pay her medical bill when she was diagnosed with bone fractures, saying he knocked her over and should be held responsible for her injuries.
The man denied wrongdoing but the court ruled he should shoulder 40% of the medical costs – a verdict which prompted a wave of criticism from the public.
A study examining 149 disputes involving people helping others to their feet between 2004-2015 concluded that the helpers got framed in 84 cases, the helpers were at fault in 32 and the facts of the remaining cases remained unclear.
Social commentators in China felt the insurance product provided a possible solution to the moral quandary whilst also reflecting a failure in China’s social morals, Associated Press
There were also questions around what had turned the elderly into scammers – while some felt it was the authoritarian country’s political system, others figured it was just bad people who had grown old.