Three years ago, a tragic accident occurred in Fukui Prefecture, in which a sleepy driver drifted into the opposite lane, causing a fatal accident. The case went to court, and the court’s decision was announced on April 20. Many were shocked to hear the results: that the judge placed fault on the driver of the car that was struck, ordering them to pay 40 million yen in damages.
In April 2012, a man (the owner of the car, whom we’ll call Mr A) and two friends were out driving on Highway 8 in Fukui Prefecture. Mr A was sitting in the passenger seat, allowing his friend to drive. The driver started nodding off at the wheel, drifted into the wrong lane, and, striking an oncoming car, resulting in Mr A’s death. His bereaved family took the driver of the other car (who we’ll call B) to court for damages, claiming B held responsibility as well.
Under the Japanese Automobile Accident Compensation Act, if a driver is unable to prove they are without fault, they become responsible for damages. The judge ruled that, since there was nothing to prove that B was at fault or not, under the AACA, B would have to pay compensation.
According to the bereaved family’s lawyer, in similar cases this is the first time that the other vehicle has been held responsible.
The insurance on A’s car didn’t cover drivers outside of his immediate family. Since it was his friend driving, the family did not receive any restitution.
The sentence admits that, without being able to determine when the car drifted into the other lane they were unable to determine any fault. However, it states that if, for example, driver B had been paying attention and noticed the other car in time, B could have honked their horn or similar, and therefore could not be completely cleared of any blame.
Source: Fukui Shimbun
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