Things to do just after a car accident in Japan

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.

Be sure to call the police even if the at-fault driver asks not to. There are some people who don't want to call the police so that they can get away from both administrative and criminal penalties. However, without calling the police, you won't get the Spot Investigation Report and the Certificate of traffic accident which are critical for the later process. 

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.

Collect information

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 the other driver to call your mobile phone so that you can quickly record his/her number
Please also ask the other driver to contact his/her voluntary insurance company and let them know about the accident. The voluntary insurance company will contact you soon so that they can start negotiation on compensation for the damage of your property and/or injury.

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.

Go to a hospital within three days since the accident. If  more than four days pass, the relation between the accident and injury might be difficult to prove. when applying for payout of insurance. You have to prove it in the following two occations: when applying for the payout of insurance and when applying for special compensation for residual disability from CALI. So, focus on making a reasonable treatment history. In other words, go to hospital soon after you injured, and visit a doctor at least once a week, so that adjusters in insurance companies or GIROJ (General Insurance Rating Organization Japan) can confirm your injury is duly triggered by the traffic accident and you have been working for treatment for certain amount of time.

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.