By ATOM Legal Professional Corporation English speaking lawyers in Japan

It’s a situation no one wants to find themselves in, but sometimes circumstances are unavoidable and accidents happen. If you drive a vehicle in Japan, it is highly important that you are aware of the necessary steps to take in the event that you cause a car accident in Japan. You don’t want to be wondering what to do after the fact, so prepare yourself now by reading this article and learning what your first response should be when a traffic accident occurs.

First response

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 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.

Accident types

To prevent future complications, always report any and all injuries suffered due to a traffic accident. In Japan, car accidents are classified into two categories as follows:

  1. Damage-only accidents (busson jiko): The vehicle or other items are damaged, or property damage occurs.
  2. Personal injury accidents (jinshin jiko): The accident has caused either injuries or death.

Depending on the type of accident, the person who caused the accident could be liable for making reparations and would be subject to administrative disposition (in the case of a damage only accident); alternatively, in the case of an accident resulting in injury or death, the responsible person will be subject to criminal punishment.

Exchange information

You should communicate with the other party involved in the accident to exchange some important information. Try to obtain the following:

  • License plate number
  • Name
  • Address
  • Telephone number
  • Insurance company information
  • Policy number

On-site investigation

Once the police arrive on the scene, they will conduct an on-site investigation whereby witnesses to the accident will be questioned to give evidence. The police will determine who was at fault during this investigation and issue an accident certificate. Be sure to keep this certificate to give over to your insurance company later when you make a claim.

The Road Traffic Act

According to Article 72.1 of the Road Traffic Act, the drivers and staff members of the vehicles and streetcars involved in the traffic accident must immediately stop driving and take the necessary measures, such as aiding injured persons and preventing road hazards.

The accident must be notified to a police officer at the scene or at the nearest police station, such as at a police booth or satellite office. The following items should be reported to the police at that time: the date, time and place where the accident occurred; the number of injured persons and extent of their injuries; damaged objects and the extent of the damage; the loads carried by the vehicles involved in the accident; and the measures taken in connection with the accident (Article 72.1 of the Road Traffic Act).

Contact an English-speaking lawyer

If you are facing legal repercussions due to causing a traffic accident in Japan, you don’t have to face it alone. Let an expert guide you through the complicated process of traffic accident litigation. Having a trusted criminal defense lawyer by your side is necessary more than ever when you are a foreigner dealing with the Japanese court system.

This page is intended to be used for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for obtaining professional legal advice.

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