Three of Traffic Accident Liabilities

Three liabilities

What are the three liabilities the at-fault driver has to carry in a traffic accident? In April 2019, the 87 years-old man's car hit and killed a 31-year-old woman and her toddler in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, injuring 12 others. It was one of the biggest news in Japan in 2019 because the man's age was too old to drive. In this article, we take a close look at three of car accident liabilities a negligent driver carries, using the real example "the fatal Ikebukuro car accident."

There are three liabilities the negligent driver carries: civil, criminal, and administrative liabilities. Let's see each of them focusing on the old negligent driver and two dead victims in the fatal Ikebukuro traffic accident.  

Civil Liability

Civil liability is the responsibility of negligent drivers to compensate for the damage to car accident victims. In the case of a human injury traffic accident such as the fatal Ikebukuro car accident, the Automobile Liability Security Act applies to the case. 

Article 3 A person that puts an automobile into operational use for that person's own benefit is liable to compensate for damage arising from the operation of the automobile if this results in the death or bodily injury of another person; provided, however, that this does not apply if the person and the driver prove that they have exercised due care in connection with the operation of the automobile, that the injured party or a third party other than the driver has acted intentionally or negligently, and that there was no defect in automotive structure or function.

Specifically, the following are the examples of the cost items which a negligent driver has to compensate for:
・Medical expenses
・Lost wages of the victim
・Consolation money

In the case of the fatal Ikebukuro car accident, a claimer for the compensation is the dead mother's husband, who is a legal heir of the two victims. He has a right to claim compensation for two of the dead victims. 

Criminal Liability

A negligent driver has a liability to be imposed for imprisonment or paying fine if the accident is admitted as a crime. The following is a traffic accident type, which is categorized as a crime.


Name of crime

Applied law


Criminal liability for fatal and injury accident

Negligence resulting in death and injury

Penal Code 211 Article 2

More than 5-year imprisonment or fine of less than 1 million JPY


Dangerous driving resulting in death or injury

Penal Code 208 Article 2

In the case of death, more than one year of fixed-term imprisonment (up to 20 years)

In the case of injury, imprisonment of up to 15 years



Penal Code 199

Death penalty or imprisonment for life or more than 5-year imprisonment


Emergency measures breach


Road Traffic Law Article 117

Under 10 years imprisonment or more than one million JPY of fine

Other examples of road traffic law violations

Emergency measures breach

Property damage traffic accident

Road Traffic Law Article 117 5(1)

Less than 1 year imprisonment or fine of less than 100,000 yen


Negligence buildings damaged crime

Road Traffic Law 116

Less than 6 months imprisonment or less than 100,000 yen of fine


Drunk driving

Road Traffic Law Article 117 2(1)

Less than 5 years imprisonment or less than one million JPY of fine


Driving under influence of alcohol

Road Traffic Law Article 117 2(2)iii

Less than 3 years imprisonment or less than 500,000 yen of fine


Non-licensed driving

Road Traffic Law Article 117 2(2)i

Less than 3 years imprisonment or less than 500,000 yen of fine

In the fatal Ikebukuro car accident, the police sent the paper pertaining to the criminal case of the negligent driver to the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor's Office on charges of violating the Motor Vehicle Penalty Law (injury to death.)

Administrative Liability

The administrative liability mainly means the addition of points on the driver's license, and the suspension and cancellation of the license. These acts are by the Public Safety Commission. In the fatal Ikebukuro car accident, the negligent driver was ordered by the Tokyo Metropolitan Public Safety Commission to revoke his driving license.