Japanese EXPORT

Taffic accident in Japan

Here are the way that you are bound to take against and after accidents for foreigners living in Japan.

  1. In a traffic accident what should you do?
  2. Compensation for damages and its calculation
  3. A traffic accident on the way to work
  4. If you are involved in a traffic accident and cause injury
  5. FAQ

1) In a traffic accident what should you do?

We are seeing more and more traffic accidents lately in which foreign workers living in Japan are involved. Below are points you must remember when you are involved in a traffic accident in Japan :
  1. If you are involved in a traffic accident, please confirm the name, address, telephone number and license plate number of the offending party who caused the accident.
  2. You must inform the police that an accident has occurred, and you must do this on the day of the accident. Even lf you are overstaying and afraid of contacting the police, you still must inform them, especially when you've been seriously injured (if medical treatment lasts longer than three weeks, an aftereffect of the injury is considered probable) The reason is that it is necessary to have an official traffic accident certificate issued from the police station whose jurisdiction covers the actual site of the accident when you apply for compensation for damages directly to the violator or to an insurance company.
  3. If you are injured, you must go to a doctor immediately and have a medical certificate with your name on issued by the doctor. If you are obliged to take a leave of absence from work due to the injury from the accident, you cannot make a claim against the offending party or insurance company if you treat your own condition without consulting a doctor. After carefully listening to the doctor's instructions, please visit him again for a regular, twice-weekly medical examination. At the semen time it is important to have the offending party or insurance company definitely agree upon the medical fees. If you are not successful in getting them to agree on a payment and you are obliged to pay the medical costs, please keep the receipts with you.
  4. If you have been too seriously injured to work, please inform your employee, explaining that because of a traffic accident you cannot come to work for a while. You will need a certificate of employment to be issued by your employer, which describes the previous three-month period of employment before the injury, when you apply for damages resulting from a leave of absence from work.
  5. If you are involved in a traffic accident and it takes you a long time to recover or aftereffects are anticipated, you are advised to consult with an NGO, a labor union or a lawyer in your locality.



2) Compensation for damages and its calculation

 Four categories are provided for damage compensation relating to injuries resulting from traffic accidents: costs for medical treatment, compensation for damages due to taking leave of absence from work, a solatium (compensation) and indemnification for dysfunction due to aftereffects (loss of income/solatium).

Between the hours of eight o'clock and five o’clock of the days, reparation is provided from the compensation money for the damages yielded by leave of absence from work, and the inconvenience brought about for the remainder of the day. is indemnified by the solatium. For instance, if your right arm has been fractured, you probably cannot cook or take a bath and are in pain. The consolation money covers these disadvantages. Emotional suffering due to the injury is calculated in the solace. If no improvement is seen in the pain or the physical restrictions, even if you continue medical treatment, then a judgment is made in accordance with the aftereffect classification. This consists of 14 degrees of classification, from the slightest disorder to the most serious. For aftereffects there are two types of compensation: one is to indemnify loss of income (compensation for what is to be lost in the future on account of the aftereffects) and consolation money for the aftereffects themselves.

 As for the calculation of damage compensation, the method is quite different from one insurance to another: 1) Automobile third party liability insurance (an insurance that every car owner/driver must have), 2) Voluntary insurance (an insurance that some car owners/drivers voluntarily join) and 3) the norms of the Bar Association of Japan.

  1. Automobile third party liability insurance
    The upper limit for the medical fee compensation during the treatment period is set at \1.2 million. If there is an aftereffect besides the injury itself, insurance money is paid in accordance with the classification of the aftereffect.
    Basically, no reduction of insurance benefits is made with this type of insurance, unless a grave error is found on the side of the victim. The \1.2 million benefit limit during the medical treatment period, however, is not sufficient since most of the amount provided is spent on the doctor's fees. In many cases, a small amount is left to guarantee the loss stemming from being unable to work, or the rest is used as solace. If the victim suffers from an aftereffect, the amount is fixed in accordance with the damage classification. The victim's side is often dissatisfied with this type of insurance. If the injury requires long-term medical treatment and produces an aftereffect, you can claim directly against the violator upon consultation with a lawyer or an NGO.
  2. Voluntary insurance
     Basically, this insurance has no upper limit, but some insurance companies set certain limits which are based on the amount allowed by the offending party's Insurance cover.
  3. Damage estimation of the Bar Association of Japan
    The Bar Association of Japan has its own norms for estimating the actual damages.
  • Decision concerning the economic gap found with lost income
     In a recent decision made by the Supreme Court a judgment has been rendered which states that the estimation shall be made in accordance with the income level of the injured person's native country in terms of lost income (i.e., future income lost by the occurrence of aftereffects).
  • On rating blame
    There is a concept of rating blame, which imputes the responsibility for the traffic accident; in other words, which party must claim more responsibility for the cause of the accident. In accordance with this rating' the amount of reparation varies. This concept impacts a lot on both sides, and the cause of the same accident is interpreted quite differently in the assertions of the victim’s side and that of the offending side. Especially when a foreigner is a victim in a traffic accident, he/she is more vulnerable, because he/she does not speak the Japanese language, and he/she may not inform the police as to his/her possible fears with regard to the authorities. Sometimes the facts are concealed by a false cause.



3) A traffic accident on the way to work

 If you are involved in a traffic accident on your way to work, you should follow the above-stated procedures. You can make a claim for workmen’s accident compensation insurance against your company as well as requesting that damage compensation be paid directly by the offending party. In this case the insurance benefit is provided only when it is clear that you were on the appropriate way to or from your residence to your place of work. Please consult with an NGO, a trade union or a lawyer for advice on the possibility of this allowance.

 Normally, the claim against the offending party is made first, but if you, the sufferer, are considered to be in some way responsible for the accident, the compensation may be very little. In this case you should apply for workmen’s accident compensation insurance first. Then you need to present to the Ministry of Labor documents concerning the third party action.

 Even if the offending party pays the total amount, you can request a special Allowance from the workmen's accident compensation insurance (for leave from work and aftereffects).

 In many cases the judgment of the Ministry of Labor concerning the norms for recognizing an aftereffect may be different from that of the Investigation Office of Traffic Accidents. If you face such a problem, it is necessary to persuade the Investigation Office to accept the judgment issued by the Ministry of Labor.



4) If you are involved in a traffic accident and cause injury

More and more traffic accidents happen these days, so you may be injured or you may cause injury. Please take the following measures so that you can respond to an accident in which you may possibly cause an injury:

  1. Make sure you have voluntary insurance.
  2. Always drive with a valid license. 

 If you should cause an accident and bring about injury, being the offender, first you must call the police so that they can check the scene of the accident. If you neglect this process, you may possibly not receive insurance money later.  At the same time you should help the victim get medically treated in a hospital. It is also important to show your sincerity, so please visit the injured while he/she is in hospital.

One more point is to inform the insurance company of the accident immediately. Unless you inform the company within 60 days of the accident, the insurance money may not be paid. It is advisable to prepare as soon as possible a drawing or diagram of the scene to clearly show the cause of the accident.



5) FAQ

Q) I was injured in a traffic accident.  The insurance company of the offender insists they will not cover the loss caused by my absence from work, though they will provide me with the medical treatment costs.  Their reason is that although I am the victim in this case, I am also greatly to blame for the cause of the accident.  I am unable to make a living now.  What should I do?

  • First it is necessary to reduce the medical treatment costs by taking advantage of workmen's accident compensation insurance (an accident which took place on your way to work) and health insurance. Then you should demand that the insurance company pay in advance the compensation for attendance at hospital, and for the side effects of your injuries. You can use this amount to cover the cost of living, negotiating with the company and conveying your position.

Q) I was in a traffic accident, but the offender was a minor who had no driver's license. What is the best way to deal with this situation?

  • You can claim against the owner of the car for the responsibility as the common user of the vehicle through both automobile third party liability insurance and voluntary insurance. Also you can demand that both the offender himself/herself and his/her parents pay damage compensation in a civil case.

Q) I was caught in a hit-and-run accident. Is there anything I can do to get compensation?

  • If you can prove that you were injured in a traffic accident, you can claim against the State for the payment of insurance money, taking advantage of the Government Guarantee System, which is based on the automobile third party liability insurance.


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