At the start of the year, I wrote a post about being involved in a minor traffic accident. A coach decided to merge into my lane and, although I wasn’t moving and beeping my horn, the coach scraped the fender and bumper of my car. It’s annoying to have to fill in paperwork, get your car fixed, and drive around a loaner for a week or two, but accidents happen.
In the previous blog post I wrote:
The one issue that does remain is exactly whose insurance will be paying for the repairs. You might assume that the bus company’s insurance would pay for everything, but in Japan blame is rarely attributed entirely to one driver. If the discussion between insurance companies results in me being given a token 10% of the blame, my insurance will pay for 10% of the damage to my car and the bus, and next year’s insurance premium will go up.
A couple of weeks ago, I got the accident summary from my insurance company ( J.A. ) it said that both vehicles had been moving at the time of the accident. On the day of the accident I had been told that the accident summary would be written after consultation between myself, the bus driver and both insurance agencies. I pointed out that not only was the accident summary wrong, but that the J.A. investigator had never contacted me. I said I wouldn’t sign the papers until the correct accident summary was written. They pointed out that it didn’t really matter as I have comprehensive coverage so I won’t have to pay either way. I said I understood, but I still wouldn’t sign the papers until it was correct.
Later that day the accident investigator phoned me and said that he, the bus driver, the representative for the bus company, and I would meet at the accident site to discuss the matter. This wasn’t a good sign. There shouldn’t be much to discuss when you’re not moving, beeping your horn and someone else hit you.
A few days later I was standing by the side of the road in Nago with the J.A. accident investigator, the bus driver and two representatives of the bus company. The representatives from the bus company got straight to the point – If you looked at my fender it showed a compression crimp that indicated frontal collision rather than a side collision. I therefore must have been moving when the accident occured. Amazingly, the J.A. accident investigator also said this sounded correct. I said that as I was in the car, with my foot on the brake, and beeping my horn, I was certain I was not moving when the bus hit me. For thirty minutes a strange circle of repetition took place where the bus company representatives pointed to photographs of the fender, and then brought out my actual damaged fender from their car to prove their point, while I continued to tell them I was stationary. At one point the bus driver started to speak and he was gestured to remain quiet by the bus company representatives. I finally said that my story wasn’t going to change no matter how many times they repeatedly showed their evidence. They said they would agree on 70% of the responsibility. I said that’s unreasonable. We decided to continue the matter at a future date.
The J.A. guy asked me what I wanted to do and I said I wanted an accurate accident summary before I would sign the report. I told him again the sequence of events and even wrote them down: Bus signals, I stop, bus moves closer, I beep my horn, bus clips the car, bus stops.
A few days later the papers arrive with a correct accident summary. I sign and send back the papers.
Yesterday I get a phone call from J.A. thanking me for sending in the papers. The J.A. man says they have decided to agree on 70% / 30% and am I okay with that. I say of course I’m not happy, but there’s nothing I can do about it realistically. J.A. guy says no.
I agree to the split, so that this minor fender bender doesn’t grow from an irritation into a surreal nightmare.
I didn’t mention the name of the bus company in the original post, because accidents happen. However the actions of Ryukyu Bus Kotsu – 琉球バス交通 in dealing with what should have been a simple matter have shown they have some ethical issues they need to sort out. As for J.A. they have shown either a lack of competence, or a desire to meet the needs of a company rather than one of their own clients.