Big trouble, bogus car accident!

Discussion in 'Japan Practical' started by ginlane, Apr 23, 2016.

  1. ginlane

    ginlane Kouhai

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    #1 ginlane, Apr 23, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2016
    Hi everyone,

    (the enclosed attachments are of the other guys front bumper, the close up 1 is the supposed damage)

    I'm in some trouble and I need advice, I mean some real stone cold good advice!

    The s**t has well and truly hit the fan. So yesterday I was driving to the local post office in my friend's vehicle. I was alone. So I'm driving down the road, I see the post office on the left, I move over to the right side of the road and then reverse into a an empty plot completely off the road next to the post office.

    I then went into the post office and mailed my letter. So I leave the post office and there's this guy at the door of the post office addressing himself to me and talking to quite assertively in Japanese. (I only speak English)

    I thought at that point I had parked in his space, I said I'm terribly sorry I'm going to go now, he walks off further down the street towards what I presume is his car.

    I get in my vehicle and drive home.

    15 minutes later there is a knock at the door. It's a policeman accompanied by the assertive guy from the post office door.

    I spend the next few hours involved in very bizarre situation. It seems this guy reckons I hit him when reversing into the empty plot. (This point blank! Never happened!) 2 more policeman turn up where I'm living. Apparently these guys are some kind of accident assessors. So now there's three of them buzzing around making lots of noise, the whole streets coming out to look, it's a right circus!

    The police are getting out tape measures and flash lights. Everyone is speaking in Japanese, I'm just bewildered and don't know what the f**k is going on. I have to show them my passport, drivers license, and international driving permit. This fiasco goes on all afternoon. Now here's the thing, 1. I definitely didn't hit him. (Like not even close) 2. There's not a mark on my car or his car. 3. It doesn't make sense because I reversed in one fluid movement. Obviously if I'd hit someone I would have felt it and the car would stop. 4. The places where the police say the marks are, (the left side of his front bumper & the left side of my rear bumper) to my mind make no logical sense, he would have been completely out of road position for that to be logical.


    Anyway, I think everything is okay and they leave after wasting my day, (actually I haven't a clue how things have been left) I've given the police my friends, brothers phone number. (It's actually his vehicle)

    In the evening my friend comes home, she's been speaking to her brother, who's had a phone call from the police. So it seems the police are saying, there has been an accident, it's my fault apparently, and we have to pay for a new bumper for this guy.

    My friend is hugely angry, has blamed me totally, and has said in effect, that I have to pay for it. She says it will be at least US$600. I say what about insurance. She says insurance doesn't come into it in this case and her brother only has the very basic insurance anyway.

    I say, what about the idea that there is fault on both sides, me and the other guy?

    She says, in Japan it works on whoever gets their complaint in first. i.e. Him.

    She also says police will always believe the Japanese person over the foreigner.

    She naturally doesn't want her brother to pay for this. And obviously wants me to cough up for it. (Money I don't have)

    I feel like a huge injustice is going on here. Actually I feel like some kind of scam has been perpetrated on me and us. According to my friend, we just have to suck it up, (or rather I have to) she says, it doesn't matter what we do, these accident policeman have pronounced that there has been an accident, and that's it!

    I have in no way accepted liability for anything. But apparently that counts for nothing here.

    This seems to me like a legal form of robbery.

    The worst of it is, there's not a scratch not a mark, not even so much as a hint of one on either vehicle. These policeman get out flashlights and try and show me something, and I'm like "I can't see s**t"! I'm just wondering if this is some kind of face saving exercise for the other guy.

    I really don't know what to do next, I'm pretty worried actually, and need some advice. Am I really liable for this? I mean, like in Europe, the two drivers would get together and agree that there was no damage, shake hands and leave it at that.

    I could understand if he actually needed a replacement bumper but he doesn't. This is why I think he's going to pocket the money somehow! Maybe get a friend who owns a garage to write out a dodgy receipt for him.

    Anyway please help!!

    kind regards Gin
     

    Attached Files:

  2. ginlane

    ginlane Kouhai

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    just one extra coda. Do people think that I'm morally obliged to cough up for this money?
    Thing is, I don't speak Japanese, it needs someone who can talk to people in Japanese.
    My friend says she is busy, and can't do it, (adding, it wouldn't do any good anyway!) in her mind the only thing that can be done is to pay up.
     
  3. Majestic

    Majestic 先輩

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    Find the money and pay up. It is not a question of morality, it is a question of being able to prove your side of the case to the authorities. It is also a case of having inconvenienced the owner of the car you were driving, and making this inconvenience go away as fast as possible. I can't see how you are going to do either of these without a fairly high level of Japanese negotiating skill. With no witnesses, and an irate farmer who has already (seemingly) got the cops on his side, you would have to rely on the kindness of a translator who is willing to go to bat for you in a case where it is your word against the farmer's word.

    Even if you were in the right, the other side seems to be in a mood for a legal battle, and you would need some legal muscle on your side - which would cost more than $600.

    If you can make this go away by just forking over $600, you've done well. It was an expensive lesson, but it could be much worse.
     
  4. Mike Cash

    Mike Cash 骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう

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    #4 Mike Cash, Apr 24, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2016
    Are you sure these were real cops? They showed up in a cop car? You got some real cop accident report paperwork?

    What line of work is your Russian friend involved in here? How is it that her brother also just happens to be living in Japan?

    There should be security camera footage from either the post office or some nearby business. Go to the police and ask them to check. I've never heard of an accident being resolved this quickly in Japan. The haggling can go on for days, weeks, or even months. I've seen it drag out over a few weeks even when there was dashcam video showing the whole thing. Don't rush and don't let yourself be rushed.
     
  5. Glenski

    Glenski Just me

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    #5 Glenski, Apr 24, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2016
    Agree with Mike so far. Did they show you their badges? Were they wearing uniforms? Did you have the forethought to jot down their badge numbers or names?

    In looking at one picture, I see 2 white scratches to the right of the license plate, and a dull darkish mark on the left corner of the bumper. The white scratches are mere lines, which could come from anything but probably not one car hitting another. Can't tell you about the dark mark, though. For the moment, it really doesn't look like it was hit (or hit much). You're going to need someone to help with your translation. You could fumble through with "Bumpa no damage o mie-nai. Damage wa doko desu ka? Ano kuruma ni butsukatte-nai." [I don't see bumper damage. Where is the damage? I didn't hit the car.] I don't think it's a good idea to give you much more sophisticated wording because they could assume you can speak and understand more than you do.

    In conferring with my Japanese wife, I learned that with basic insurance, the insurance company won't cover accidents, so the owner has to pay. Now, as far as who calls it in first, she said that's not important at all. (Besides, you were very cooperative when they came to your home.) It's very important to not lose your cool outwardly when speaking to them, too. Foreigners do have that stigma of being too assertive, but maintain your cool when talking to the police (if it really was them). HOWEVER YOU MUST BOTH CONTACT THE RESPECTIVE INSURANCE COMPANIES. See below.

    I recently bumped into a friend's bumper with my car in a parking lot. Together we phoned the cops and insurance companies. In this case, since it was her home's parking lot, and she wasn't in the car, I was totally to blame. I had 2 options. (1) Tell the insurance company to pay, in which case my rates would go up for 3 years. (2) Pay out of pocket (about 50,000 yen to replace the bumper) and not affect my insurance. I did the latter.

    Get your friend's insurance company name and contact info.
    Maintain your innocence if you're 100% certain.
    Show us pics of your friend's car to confirm no damage. What color is your friend's car? Will a dark color from that gray car show up well?

    If you really want some bold assertion to state, "Haraimasen!" means I will not pay. But it's up to you.
     
  6. Mike Cash

    Mike Cash 骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう

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    Legally, the car's owner is responsible for the damage, I think. I've just spent a while J-googling this issue of accidents when one has loaned their car out. Legally, the owner has simply transferred agency (operating the car on his behalf) and not necessarily full financial responsibility arising from anything that happens while the car is not in his direct control. The brother is on the hook here, but can certainty expect you to stand good for the damages as a matter of principle and common sense.

    If the brother has only the bare minimum mandatory insurance (jibaiseki) which doesn't cover property damage whatsoever, then he is an idjit. If he has only jibaiseki and loans his car to people, then he is an incredible idjit.

    If he has private insurance (nin'i hoken), then all the more this is a matter between the victim and the brother's insurance company. They should be involved, as if this claim is bogus they will strive to prove it and avoid payment.
     
  7. Majestic

    Majestic 先輩

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    I think the driver has some responsibility, as does the owner.
    貸したクルマの事故は、持ち主の責任って本当?|「マイナビウーマン」
    But already we're are at a level that requires intervention of a lawyer, so the OP is now swimming in the deep end of the pool. Obligatory insurance doesn't cover property (only people), and so I think any inquiries down that path will lead to a dead-end. Even if it doesn't lead to a dead-end, it requires the owner of the car to take a penalty on his insurance rates. And, on top of the insurance premium penalty, going down the route of, "It's cool dude, just get your insurance to pay for it"... still requires the owner to do a lot of mendokusai dialogue with his insurance company. You could well say that it is partially his fault for being dumb enough to loan out his car in the first place... but if I were in the OP's place I can't see me pointing the finger at the guy who loaned me the car and telling him it's his fault for loaning it to me.

    I'm mentally discounting the possibility that all of these guys are in cahoots with each other and are just trying to cheat you out of $600. However, "atariya" (i.e. people pretending to get hit by a car for the purpose of extorting money) is a phenomenon here in Japan, particularly in Kansai. But I assume the OP knows whether the cops were real or not.
     
  8. ginlane

    ginlane Kouhai

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    #8 ginlane, Apr 24, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2016
    Hi all,

    thanks for your replies,

    Yes they certainly looked like real cops, they wore uniforms showed up in a police car, the assessor police officers turned up in a van looking all very official.

    They did not give me any paperwork, he's lived here for 20 years. She has just started living here recently after finishing her degree in Japanese. She now also works for her brother's company.


    What I would like to know, if anyone can tell me is, is there some kind of free translation service that I can get hold of? Also is there some kind of Citizens Advice Bureau I can contact for help?

    I've no idea what this other guy has told them and he had free rein to spin the story whatever way he liked.


    Mike,

    I understand what you're saying about the haggling going on for weeks, but from what my friend told me. It's open and shut. The police have spoken to the insurance company. There has been an accident, I'm the guilty party, money must be paid.

    Apparently that's what these police accident assessor guys do. They do the investigation, pass on their conclusions to the insurance company, and that's good enough for them.

    I asked my friend, "doesn't the insurance company have assessors themselves to do that sort of thing"?

    I mean that's how it would work at home. She said no, they just get a report from the cops and act on that. The thing is, I feel these cops were clowns and I feel it needs a insurance company assessor to look at it as well, both vehicles.


    I need to go to Kameoka police station to go speak to them to get them to understand my side of the story. My friend unfortunately has banned me from using the vehicle to do that.
     
  9. I don't blame your friend for not loaning you her car, since you don't seem to be financially responsible. You said you have no money to pay. In my view, you shouldn't be driving if you can't cover, through insurance or your own resources, any damage.

    Scammers in the US will pull in front of you and suddenly stop, so you hit them in the rear. Then the occupants (the car will be full of them) will all claim personal injuries. Maybe you could contact the other driver and offer to pay half or something, if you can come up with the funds for that.
     
  10. Mike Cash

    Mike Cash 骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう

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    I think you place too much reliance on what your "friend" tells you. I suspect she is just as ignorant of things here as most foreigners are. Also, the things I have read of her hardly sound like the actions of someone I would call a "friend" to begin with.

    We went from her brother not having collision insurance to the police having already given a report to the brother's insurance company. How did that happen? There's some ignorance or lying going on here somewhere.

    The police have no say in whether you have any financial responsibility in this or not; that's strictly a civil matter. If they didn't bust you for leaving the scene, you have nothing to worry about from them.

    I would demand to see the accident report and anything from the insurance company before I gave anybody a nickel. Not because I wouldn't feel morally liable, but because I would suspect the brother had his insurance handle the claim and was then hitting you for the money.

    As Roland says, there are accident scammers here; I've had trouble with them a couple of times myself.
     
  11. ginlane

    ginlane Kouhai

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    #11 ginlane, Apr 24, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2016
    Yes I know this :emoji_smile:

    I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion she had her own reasons for bringing me here, and

    It's not gonna happen!

    I have to take some responsibility for this as well, I had a bad feeling about coming here with regards to what she wanted, but I kind of let her railroad me. (Yes weak I know)

    It has also occurred to me that she doesn't know what she's talking about, either making stuff up or filling in the blanks, she's prone to exaggeration neurosis and hysteria. (Though she does have good qualities as well.) Her brother is on business in Tokyo and won't be back for a few days. I really need to speak to him about this as he is a reasonable guy. I'm sure he does have insurance though of what variety I don't know. All she told me was, the police contacted the insurance company and we will have to pay.

    It surely can't be that one party is completely not spoken to and then a decision is made without finding out my side of the story.

    To be honest I'm a little annoyed that she won't give me any kind of assistance at all. I understand she's busy, but a simple heads up on what I might be able to do, I'd be happy to do the legwork, go places, fill out forms, speak to people. In effect what she is saying to me is, "Me and my brother are extremely busy with the business", "it's not worth our time to sort this out", "I can't help you to sort it out, but at the same time I don't want my brother to pay". She's shoehorning me into one outcome, pay up.
     
  12. Glenski

    Glenski Just me

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    No, it doesn't, as evidenced by my own personal case. If the insurance company pays out, yes. However, with obligatory minimum insurance, they won't because the coverage isn't there.

    Considering all you have written about her, many of us came to that conclusion quite a while ago.

    Annoyed? I'd be royally pissed. I can't begin to fathom your relationship with her, from either end!

    From what you told us, the police DID try, but your inability to speak the language was the barrier. If you want some free help in translating/interpreting, look up the local city hall for advice.
     
  13. ginlane

    ginlane Kouhai

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    so then if that is the case, surely enquiries should be suspended until an interpreter can be gotten hold of. I will try, Kameoka City Hall and see if I can get somewhere there. thanks :emoji_smile:
     
  14. I guess I'm in the minority, but I see this from your friend's point of you. She did you a big favor, and now her brother's insurance is involved. What if your friend loaned you her brother's car without his permission? She may be in big trouble with her brother.

    I understand why she doesn't want to loan you her car again. Why do you need to drive in Japan, anyway? Ben Franklin said, "Neither borrower nor lender be," with good reason. Aren't there trains or buses you can take? Driving a private vehicle should be a real luxury for you. I lived in Japan for over a year without access to a private vehicle.

    What I would probably do is take a translator along to see this guy, offer him half the damage claim--show him the money right there!--and tell him you dispute the claim, and unless he accepts this compromise he will have to file suit to collect. Try to get him to sign something. See, I don't know what to tell you "something" means here; you really should see a lawyer to find out how to protect yourself. But hell, at that point it's just a $300 problem after all.
     
  15. ginlane

    ginlane Kouhai

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    My friend's brother is well aware that I use the vehicle, they jumped on this plan a fortnight ago that I could be a supplemental driver for one of their tour groups. it's a busy time at the moment what with the cherry blossom thing happening. A lot of tourists in Kyoto, they're booked out. they were going to pay me cash in hand. I wasn't driving because I wanted to. I didn't bring an international driving permit with me. They insisted I get one. I sent the scanned application form by e-mail, I had to send the original paper version in the mail within six weeks or they will cancel the permit. Two weeks had gone already, I couldn't leave it any longer. It was for their benefit after all!
     
  16. That puts a different light on the matter. Were you actually working for them when you had the alleged accident? I had the impression you were on a personal errand.
     
  17. ginlane

    ginlane Kouhai

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    Well you see that's the thing,

    I told her the other day I needed to go to the post office in Kameoka to mail my permit application. Kameoka is aprox 6 km further east from where we live.

    Then yesterday morning she needed dropping off at Kyoto station. Afterwards I drive back past where we live and on 6 km further to a small post office on the outskirts of Kameoka, that's where the alleged incident took place. When she got back she said, "why didn't you just go home after dropping me off"

    I reminded her I needed to mail my permit. But that cut no ice with her. She said "but I wasn't with you then", implying I shouldn't have gone cause she wasn't with me. Actually she is fine with me driving around doing errands without her, picking up and dropping her off.

    It's hard to define it whether I was working for them or not, but I'm going to say yes.

    I dropped her off, I needed to mail my permit application, also for their benefit.
     
  18. Glenski

    Glenski Just me

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    So, now you admit to WORKING without a proper visa. Keep this quiet when you do any dealings with the guy whose car was hit. Sheesh.
     
  19. Majestic

    Majestic 先輩

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    Maybe, in an ideal world. Unfortunately, you are not in the polyglot's utopia. Japanese officialdom can be can be very harsh for people who don't speak Japanese. Anyway, the city hall is a good start. Also search online to see if there is any English legal help line. Kyoto city may have some free legal resources as well.

    I wish you luck, but I feel yours is a hopeless case that is becoming more complex through each new revelation. I don't think the police are interested in hearing your side of the story. I do find it strange that they wouldn't give you a copy of the report, but maybe since there were no injuries, and since the property damage was so slight, there was no meaningful report? Anyway, I would try to get some legal advice before going to the cops.
     
  20. ginlane

    ginlane Kouhai

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    well no, because I never got as far as paid work. I don't know the streets of Kyoto well enough, they were training me up.
     
  21. Mike Cash

    Mike Cash 骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう

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    I very strongly suspect the friend is lying about the police having given an accident report to the insurance company. I suspect she is hammering OP for the money to make it all go away before her brother gets back and finds out about it. They sure as hell don't want the cops to figure out her brother's company has been employing you illegally. Your license, while driving tourists about, is as worthless as the paper it is printed on. You need a special class of license to transport people or goods for hire. You ain't got one, believe me. I wonder whether any of the people working for him do. In fact, I wonder if his business is properly licenced. I doubt it.

    These are some dodgy-assed characters you would do well to distance yourself from.

    For a 90 day stay?

    Now I'm suspecting they intended having you overstay your visa illegally as well. They certainly didn't pay your way over here your room and board just so they could get a few days work out of you. Run away from these people before they land you in jail.
     
  22. ginlane

    ginlane Kouhai

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    Hi Mike,

    the brother already knows about it, I had to call him in Tokyo because the police wanted to speak to him, what with him being the owner and all.

    My friend says this is all from her brother, (the having to pay money etc)

    Are you very certain about this special class of license? I just know for sure my friend also drives people around and she doesn't have some special licence. Also it's not like we're driving around the public i.e. like a bus or train, it's a private business, diving private clients around in a private vehicle! I would imagine in this case a bog standard driving licence would do?
     
  23. Mike Cash

    Mike Cash 骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう

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    You would be imagining incorrectly. You/they need a class 2 license (taxi/bus) to carry people for hire.

    I also doubt whether the tour guides have the necessary tour guide licences (everything is licensed in Japan) and whether the company has jumped through all the hoops to be operating legally as a tour company. I scoured their website and found no mention of it. They own their own buses they carry customers around in? Tell me what color the license plates are. White or green?
     
  24. ginlane

    ginlane Kouhai

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    The front and back license plates are the same. they are white with dark green lettering.

    I don't know if this is pertinent or not, but the vehicle is like a people carrier, it's only used for moving between tourist sites. It's not like one of those big buses where the driver is miked up, and saying things like if you look to your left now you will see Kyoto Imperial Palace ....... or something like that. From what I understand, the tour guiding happens once they get out of the vehicle. :emoji_smile:
     
  25. Mike Cash

    Mike Cash 骨も命も皆此の土地に埋めよう

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    They are operating illegally.
     

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