Damage-only and personal injury car accidents in Japan
Japan classifies car accidents into two categories: damage-only and personal injury accidents. It’s important to understand the difference between the two in the unfortunate case that you ever experience a traffic accident while in Japan. The legal consequences vary depending on the type of accident, so if you were at fault for the accident, then you especially want to be aware of the differences between these two types of accidents. Read on to learn about the types of car accidents in Japan, their legal consequences, and getting legal representation.
What to do when an accident happens
Remember that when you have a car accident in Japan there are certain steps you must take to ensure everyone’s safety. The first thing you should do after causing a car accident is call 119 if someone is hurt to request treatment and an ambulance. Injured persons are always the first priority at the scene of an accident. If it’s possible to still drive your vehicle, you should move it out of the way of traffic to the side of the road and use a road caution sign to alert other drivers on the road.
Next, notify the Japanese police by calling 110 — if you cannot speak Japanese, then have someone who speaks Japanese contact the police for you. You must always notify the police in the case of an accident regardless of the accident’s severity. Lastly, you should contact your insurance company to inform them of the accident. Some insurance companies require you to notify of an accident within a set period of time, so you should contact them as soon as possible to be safe.
Damage-only accidents (busson jiko)
If you cause only property damage in the accident, then you will not have points added to your license. In most cases, there will be no legal consequence (no charges brought against you). You may still want to hire a car accident lawyer, in case negotiations with your insurance company go wrong.
If you damage the other party’s property, you are responsible for the repair cost and purchase cost. However, these costs are usually covered by your insurance company.
Personal injury accidents (jinshin jiko)
Depending on how severely the other party was injured, you will have points added to your license. You could possibly be charged with negligent driving causing death or injury, or dangerous driving causing death or injury, depending on the manner of driving and the degree of injury of the victim.
Additionally, there will be a liability for damages to the victim. However, your Japanese insurance company may be able to partially or fully cover the cost of the damages. If you or a fellow passenger of your car gets injured, you can receive compensation by personal injury insurance or passenger accident insurance.
For more information on penalties for causing injuries/death in a car accident, click here.
License point system in Japan
The licenses in Japan work on a point system. Your license can be suspended or revoked if you collect too many points on your license due to doing something wrong. To learn more about how the point system works and the various violations, click here.
Contact an English-speaking lawyer
Regardless of the type of accident you have, you should contact an English-speaking lawyer to help you sort out the aftermath. A lawyer can help ensure you get paid the maximum amount from your insurance company,or lessen fines or charges in the case that you are facing legal consequences.
You should have a bilingual lawyer by your side when in Japan due to the language barrier and differences in the legal system, so call 03-6868-8647 for a consultation or contact us through our online contact form.
This page is intended to be used for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for obtaining professional legal advice. For advice from a lawyer, please call the number listed above.