By ATOM Legal Professional Corporation English speaking lawyers in Japan

We all hope it will never happen, but sometimes traffic accidents are inevitable and it’s better to be prepared with accurate knowledge about what to do if you are in one in Japan than be left wondering if the time does come. You can get in car accidents that are not your fault. Read below to learn what your first response should be if you are ever the victim of a traffic accident in Japan. The information provided in this article will help you be prepared in the unfortunate case that you suffer a car accident while here.

First response

The first thing to do when you are the victim of a traffic accident is notify the Japanese police by calling 110. If you don’t speak Japanese, have a Japanese speaker notify the police on your behalf. Once the police have been contacted, you should verify the identity of the other driver by checking the following information:

  • Name 
  • Address
  • Insurance entry date
  • Insurance company

You should also provide this same information to the other party. Lastly, you should try to secure witnesses and evidence of the accident. For all witnesses that you gather, obtain their contact information as well.

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 car 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 Japanese Road Traffic Act).

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.

If you were injured…

If you suffered any injuries as a result of the traffic accident and must be taken to a hospital, be sure you receive a medical certificate. You need this medical certificate to charge treatment expenses to the person who caused the accident and insurance companies. Even if the injury is minor, it is advised to have the medical certificate prepared in any case. 

If the responsible party does not have insurance…

The governmental services of automobile liability’s guarantee operated by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport will provide you with the amount that the Ministry approved in the case that the person who caused the accident does not have insurance. Be sure to keep all certificates, including the medical certificate, accident certificate, etc. to ensure you will not have trouble using this service.

Accident certificate 

The final step in the process will be receiving an accident certificate from the police officer who conducted an on-site investigation of the accident. You should carefully keep this certificate because you will need it to seek damages from the person who caused the accident and insurance companies.

Contact an English-speaking lawyer

This article has presented the basic facts you should be aware of if and when you suffer a car accident and are not at fault. While these facts will help prepare you for the situation, dealing with the insurance company to ensure you receive the appropriate amount of compensation can be a headache as they may not pay out the highest amount you are eligible for, especially as a foreigner in Japan.

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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