Report No. 51
33. Social insurance in Soviet Russia.-
So much as regards tort liability in the U.S.S.R.1 Social Insurance in the U.S.S.R. may now be briefly discussed.
1. See also para. 35, infra.
34. The scheme1 of social insurance in the U.S.S.R. cover almost all employees (including most of the women in the Union-48 per cent. of the labour force is female) and payments are made by the employer.
(i) Temporary disability.-Industrial and professional employees (but not collective farm workers) are entitled to temporary disability payments. If the injury is caused through the employment, full wages are paid; if not, the amount depends on (a) whether the victim is a trade unionist; and (b) how long as he has been in employment. At the top rate he can get 90 per cent. of (basic) wages.
(ii) Permanent disability.-The degree of disability is determined by a board of medical and labour experts. If the disability was caused by industrial or professional injury and is total, the pension will amount to just over half the average wage; for partial disability, less is payable. In the case of disability from other causes, the proportions are lower and depend on length of service.
(iii) Loss of breadwinner.-Pensions are payable to dependant and vary according to whether or not the death was caused by occupational injury.
As the social security payments rarely equal previous earnings, there is still room for the law of tort.
1. Alec Samuels Damages in Personal Injury Cases, (1968) 17 I.C.L.Q. 443, 461, 462.
35. From the purely formal point of view, the Soviet law of tort is quite sophisticated. It rests on two principles:
(i) A person who injures another is liable unless he proves that he was not at fault.
(ii) The owner of a source of "increased hazard" is liable for harm caused by it unless he proves that the damage was caused by insuperable force or the victim's act. The car and the factory machine fall under rule (ii).
The law of insurance is, however, used to limit these rules. If the defendant is paying social insurance contributions for the plaintiff (as will be the case for every employer), he is liable only if fault is established. Hence, the "increased hazard" rule has little application in the factory. It applies, of course, to cars; but the owner is forbidden to insure his liability. The result, is, that the factory, but not the motorist, can buy cover against pure accident.