Litigation Nation Virus Spreading West to East

October 17, 2011

I have called the United States the “Litigation Nation” a number of times due to frivolous lawsuits, and it seems that China has earned that title too.

A disturbing story hit the Web from — Chinese express horror at public indifference to toddler hit-run victim.

A surveillance camera in the Chinese city of Foshan in southeastern Guandong province caught a van hitting a two-year-old girl and then the van drove away.  Several minutes went by and no one went to the toddler’s aid.  In fact, a second van ran over her before someone dragged her off the street.

The injured toddler is now hospitalized and in a coma according to Reuters.

The conclusion to the post says, “Many people in China are hesitant to help people who appear to be in distress for fear that they will be blamed,” Reuters’ Martina wrote in his report. “High-profile law suits have ended with Good Samaritans ordered to pay hefty fines to individuals they sought to help.”

This video of the hit-and-run has been edited and elements of the toddler being hit by the vans were blurred.

This brought to mind an incident when I was a few years old in the late 1940s or early 1950s when my father stopped at the scene of an accident in a heavy rainstorm.

Other drivers stopped too and gave assistance to a man trapped in his wrecked car.

The injured driver’s leg was pinned under the dashboard and he was bleeding heavily. To save his life, my father returned to our car and took out a hacksaw from his tool kit in the trunk.

My father told me and my mother to stay in the car and went back out into the heavy rain to the accident site.

Then he and several other people that stopped to help worked together to cut off the man’s leg where the bone was exposed to get him out of the car where they could apply a tourniquet to the stump and stop the bleeding saving the man’s life.

In that era, America had not earned the term “Litigation Nation”, and my father and the other Good Samaritans were not arrested or taken to court for helping to save the man’s life even though he lost a leg.

In China, thanks to the surveillance camera, the two hit and run drivers of the toddler were arrested.

The reason for the apathy might be that in the early 1980s, China implemented legal reforms and adopted a Western style legal system based on German law.  The reason China did this was that it was required to be accepted to the World Trade Organization.

In fact, this fear of being punished for being a Good Samaritan is not exclusive to China.

WARNING! — This video does not blur the hit-and-run and reveals the horror of the toddler being run over by the two vans.

In December 2008, the Los Angeles Times reported that Good Samaritans in California get no aid from high court. The California Supreme Court ruled that a young woman who pulled a co-worker from a crashed vehicle was not immune from civil liability because the care she rendered wasn’t medical.

In addition,, says, “American common law has little success in encouraging the Good Samaritan, and two famous cases strongly illustrate this point. In a 1964 case in New York, a woman was stabbed outside her apartment building while her neighbors watched. No one called the police. When she screamed, the attacker fled, only to return twice to stab and kill her when no one responded.

“The second incident occurred in Massachusetts, in 1983, when tavern patrons watched a woman being raped. The assault lasted more than an hour, but no one intervened or called for help. The predominant excuse in both cases was a fear of getting involved, and progress in changing laws to deal with apathy is still sporadic and slow.”

As for China, it appears that we are seeing the results of China adopting a Western legal system, which includes a virus called apathy and a fear of being punished for being a Good Samaritan.

Discover Growing China’s Legal System


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

Subscribe to “iLook China”
Sign up for an E-mail Subscription at the top of this page.

About iLook China