This article is about what to do when you're involved in an automobile accident while staying in Japan. If you don't understand Japanese, don't worry. The main services offered by police or automobile insurance companies are available in English. Besides, the police are always available anywhere in Japan, and they can immediately come to the accident site. So stay calm and call #110. The following advice is for you when you want to know more detail on what to do after calling the police.
First of all, move your vehicle to a place as safe as possible for not triggering any further accidents.
Give aid to the injured
Check if the other driver, passenger, or any other person is OK. According to Article 72 of the Road Traffic Law in Japan, giving aid to the injured is mandatory for people involved in a traffic accident.
Article 72 (1)
"In the event of a traffic accident, the drivers and staff members of the vehicles and streetcars involved in the traffic accident (hereinafter each such person is referred to in this Section as a "driver or staff member") must immediately stop driving and take the necessary measures, such as aiding injured persons and preventing road hazards."
Call an emergency service
If there are any severely injured victims, call #119 for emergency service. The number is a Japanese direct-dial emergency number that connects the caller to the fire brigade and emergency medical services. The first receiver usually speaks Japanese, but they are also available for English, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, and Spanish. They will ask you the following:
- Your place
- Victim's condition
- Victim's age and gender
- Your name
In the case where it's really really emergent, they might suggest what you have to do while waiting for their ambulance service to arrive. For example, how to give artificial respiration to the victim.
Call the police
Call #110 for the police. This is also mandatory for the people involved in a traffic accident according to Article 72 of the Road Traffic Law in Japan. Aside from the obligation, calling the police is important for the following two reasons:
- The Spot Investigation Report
After the police arrive at the accident scene, they start researching the detail of the accident. They interview you, the other driver, and witness so that they can make a draft of the Spot Investigation Report. It is an only report with a neutral perspective of cops. In the future, you and the other driver might argue which is more faulty in the accident. If it happens, the report will be useful then. So, explain your opinion as clear as possible to the police. Take care not to allow them to write a factually inaccurate story. The police will show you a draft in the accident site, so check the draft as carefully as possible.
- The Certificate of Traffic Accident
This certifies the accident truly happened. Without it, you can't prove the accident to insurance companies. It means you cannot receive any of their payouts. Remember that the certificate is not issued if you don't call the police when the accident happens.
Contact your insurance company
Contact your insurance company and let them know about the accident. If you rent a car from a car rental agent, call them and share what happened. They might contact the insurance company as your representative.
Exchange contact information with the other driver. Exchange it also with the witnesses if possible.
- Take a picture of his/her driver's license containing name and address.
- Ask if the other driver has purchased voluntary insurance in addition to CALI (Compulsory Automobile Liability Insurance)
- Ask the other driver to call your mobile phone so that you can quickly record his/her number
Collect information on the accident scene
Take pictures of the damaged vehicle, tire mark on the road, guardrail damage as many as possible. If you are bleeding, don't discard nor wash the bloody clothes. Just keep them. Such evidence possibly works later on.
The amount of compensation incredibly depends on the Percentage of Negligence in the accident. If you are not satisfied with the amount, you need to suggest your opinions with the evidence. The evidence will also work when you consult with professionals trying car accident cases.
Go to hospital
Visit the doctor as soon as possible. If you get a visible and severe injury in a car accident, immediately go to a hospital. Not all the accident injuries don't show up right away. Some might appear after three days, and the other might appear after one week. Once you acknowledge the damage, go to a hospital as soon as possible. That is to get treatment right away, and also to make a treatment record. The record of your treatment history surely works when applying for compensation from insurance companies or CALI.
In a case where you're severely injured
Only in the case where you're severely injured, you might be brought to a hospital by an ambulance directly from the accident scene. While you get hospitalized in the hospital for some days, the police might visit you. The police will communicate with your doctor and might help the doctor to make a medical certificate. Once the police get the medical certificate, the accident is recorded as "a traffic accident resulting in injury or death." That means both you and the other driver or one of you will get both administrative punishment and criminal penalties.