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Mother ordered to pay Y95 mil after bicycle-riding son collides with elderly woman

111 Comments

The Kobe District Court has ruled against the 40-year-old single mother of a 15-year-old boy after his bike struck an elderly woman while he was riding too fast down a hill.

Judge Tomoko Tanaka ordered that the mother pay a total of 95 million yen because she “provided insufficient guidance to the child that may have prevented this accident.”

According to the court, the incident occurred in 2008 when the boy was an elementary school student. He was said to be traveling 20-30 km/h down a hill in Kita Ward, Kobe, when he struck the victim who was taking a stroll with an acquaintance.

The collision fractured the woman’s skull and put her into a coma, which as of this writing she still hasn’t come out of. Of the 95 million yen compensation, 35 million will go to the victim’s long-term care bills, and 60 million will go to her insurance company.

Although the defense denied the mother’s liability saying that she had provided the proper guidance, the judge ruled against them.

However, a vast majority of Japanese commenters simply saw this as a sad event for all involved. Several netizens called for a stricter license system in Japan.

The penalty to the mother certainly is cripplingly harsh, but there’s also the poor woman who was put into a five-year coma while enjoying a simple walk.

Sources: Asahi Shimbun via Hamusoku

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Japanese Pay 18% of the World’s Total Insurance Premiums -- Kazuo Ishikawa’s half-century struggle against a wrongful murder conviction -- Japanese High School Girl Beauty Pageant Open to Online Voting

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111 Comments
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i believe the judge is wise enough to see that it was no accident, that the senior lady did not have to be in coma if the son had been careful enough

"no accident"? So... you believe it was intentional? That's a tad on the harsh side of speculation. Too often I see this nowadays, someone has to be at fault, it can't simply be an accident. Of course the boy (9 or 10 at the time) didn't intend to hurt the old woman! It was simply an accident.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@hikkifan

It's a court decision. Nothing to do with the government.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Where in the hell is this women going to get 95 Million Yen? THE JAPANESE GOVERNMENT IS BEING A LITTLE HARSH IS IT NOT!!!!...Lower it for sakes jeez.

An elderly women got hit with a bike, a minor scratch I say, it was not all that bad. She may be elderly but a bike couldnt have done that much damage.....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

hope this woman has an insurance policy of her own. difficult to think that she will pay anything out of pocket.. and too many of us have 95 million yen in our pockets either

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I did not know pedestrians carried insurance here!!! If it was a gaigin they would be sitting in jail I spose........

0 ( +0 / -0 )

zichi: ambrosia, the only facts we know about this accident are what are in the post, anything else is speculation.

Including this?

The case should have been dismissed but I guess the judge got his brown envelope?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Your mother gave you cycling lessons ? Made you pass a brake test in slopes ? a slalom test ?

I based my statement on what the judge said. When you see a verdict which doesn't fit to your view of the world then the reason for that is always the ill judgement of others, but never your lack of information? Please tell us what you know but we don't know because it is missing in the article.

She did, like 99% of people in Japan. Who has not one or five insurances ? Read the article, they mention it. Now she is asked to pay 60 millions to that insurance.

Well, after re-reading the article I see that the sentence is written unclear. When the article mentions "her insurance" the "her" can refer to either the victim or the mother. I read it as the victim's insurance. Then the sentence makes perfect sense. The other way around the judgement would indeed raise a lot of question marks. Most Japanese articles, similar to this one on JT, only talk about "the insurance", without any specifics. This Asahi article is clearer in that it refers to the victim's accident insurance: http://www.asahi.com/national/update/0705/OSK201307040164.html

1 ( +1 / -0 )

How many families could pay to have themselves and their children covered by ¥100 million of insurance?

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i believe the judge is wise enough to see that it was no accident, that the senior lady did not have to be in coma if the son had been careful enough...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Insurance companies scare me. Let me share a similar anecdote that shows just how much power they have.

Long story, so skip to the bottom if you're not interested.

Back in 2009, riding on a bicycle, I was hit by an automobile as we passed through an unmarked intersection. I was thrown into the air by the force of the car, and luckily got my hand out to break my fall as I landed on the hood of the car. I should have tried to roll off it somehow, though, because the heel of my hand put quite an impressive and costly dent into that hood.

My bicycle was a cheap "mamachari" that wasn't worth insuring, so I was accepting of the idea that I might just have to eat the cost of my bicycle if it gets damaged in an accident, along with the cost of my injuries. The value of his car and its parts are none of my concern, because that's what his collision insurance is for.

He chastises me for what's happened to his car and drives off; I memorize his plate number and limp to the koban to chat with the police about what happens next.

Cop -- who probably just wants to avoid paperwork more than anything -- tells me that if I choose to file an official report, his insurance company will unilaterally decide the percentage of fault, and since I have no company in my corner, it will not be to my advantage. They'll then assess or sue me for a percentage of whatever money they have to pay him.

The sum total of the value of my bike plus the medical treatment I needed would be lower than that of his car repairs, so if I file, I will be out of pocket. Had he had some multimillion-yen hood ornament that was destroyed, I'd have been bankrupted for life. (Had I been riding a bicycle worth millions, that would have decreased my liability to him, and his insurance would have had to pay me.)

So I just had to let the whole thing go, even though I walked with a limp for a month and suffered permanent eyesight damage. But it's better than being put in the poorhouse by a greedy insurance company that preys on people who can't fight back.

That's what I think is happening in this case. If the kid had some kind of insurance company fighting for him and (fraudulently, even) trumping up the costs of his injuries, which are presumably minimal, he'd actually be better off. But because he doesn't, the other party gets to write their own ticket, cost-wise, and the old woman is in a coma, the kid and his mother are bankrupt, and the insurance company (whose job is to cover the costs of these kinds of things) keeps all the payments the old woman put in over the years and then, when they do have to pay out, gets reimbursed by the other party.

TLDR version: Sneaky insurance companies manipulate fault percentages and take advantage of people who get into accidents.

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35 million will go to the victim's long-term care bills, that's totally acceptable. But 60 million for the insurance!!???

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TMarie or I do not disagree with you, of course the penalty is too steep, but a penalty must br paid.

It's not a penalty. It's a civil court that deals about financial compensations for damages.

The mother has made two mistakes, the first being the lack of education of her child

Your mother gave you cycling lessons ? Made you pass a brake test in slopes ? a slalom test ?

and the second being that she obviously didn't enter any liability insurance.

She did, like 99% of people in Japan. Who has not one or five insurances ? Read the article, they mention it. Now she is asked to pay 60 millions to that insurance.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I can only witness that day by day, it is more and more difficult to have the bicycle to cohabit with pedestrian. So either make the bicycle riders more responsible of their acts and have them to respect law and courtesy, move them to a different path or simply prohibits them in city crowded like Tokyo or similar where bicycles are unnecessary (not talking also about parking pollution), simply walk or take the public transportation.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

There is a lot of outrage here, but the ruling is quite reasonable and could be expected. Let me explain why. First of all, parents are generally liable for the damages which are caused by their children, unless there is an explicit exception defined by law. The court has confirmed that the accident was caused by the child and that it does not fall under any of the exceptions. As a consequence, the damage of the accident has to be shouldered by the mother.

This is a civil lawsuit and there is no fine and no punishment. The 95M Yen are costs which have accumulated during the last five years, which is the 60M for the insurance company, or will have to be spent in future, which is the 35M for the family of the victim. Considering the circumstances, the amounts are absolutely reasonable.

The insurance company mentioned in the article is the victim's health insurance. Neither public nor private health insurance cover costs associated with accidents. Only in case of urgent demand they provide the temporary coverage for the treatment of the victim until they can recoup the cost from the person who is responsible for the accident. This is what happened here.

The mother has made two mistakes, the first being the lack of education of her child and the second being that she obviously didn't enter any liability insurance. You may argue about the first mistake and that you can't always control what your children do. Then it is even more important that you protect yourself by an appropriate insurance if you do not want to end up in the same situation like this mother.

As sad as the outcome is for the mother (let's not forget that as a single mother she might not have had the means for a liability insurance), the real victims are still the old lady and her family who have to shoulder the future cost of her treatment and who will, despite the verdict, probably never see any money from the mother.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Mirai HayashiJul. 08, 2013 - 03:49PM JST

DOG I am not saying that the mother is not liable for the child. She definitely is. But the punishment is totally and completely unjust. 95mil yen is going to ruin these people's lives. If it were a reasonable amount being paid completely to the family of the victim, THEN we are having a conversation

TMarie or I do not disagree with you, of course the penalty is too steep, but a penalty must br paid.

It reminds me of one author who commented on Japan in later 1945, who observed Japanese that smoked in 'no-smoking' designated places and when reprimanded, excusing it under the new banner of 'democracy'.

Freedom has responsibility, as Camus observed at his award of the Nobel prize. The Japanese public have yet to learn this, maybe this will be a lesson to the keitai obsessed mother chan.

The liability of parents for the acts of their children, in Japanese civil law, is based on some of the following circumstances:

The parent has knowledge of prior misconduct

The child is guilty of willful misconduct

The child defaces another's property

The child is convicted of a crime and ordered to pay restitution

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Ok, I've been thinking about this, and what I'm most annoyed about is the 'you obviously didn't teach the child about road safety" aspect of the judge's ruling. That's unfair, and probably impossible to prove.

But when I think about it, if my six-year old daughter, despite many many warnings not to mess with scissors, used one to cut up her classmate's book, I'd feel like I should pay for the replacement. It's not that I have failed in my duties as a parent by not teaching her about scissors, but...well, I'm her parent, and I'm just responsible in general for that kind of stuff.

Anyhow, as I understand it, the claim was brought at least partly by the insurance company, who alleged 'parental neglect regarding road safety' or something similar to wriggle out of insurance payments.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

95mil yen is going to ruin these people's lives.

So does a five year, probably permanent, coma.

The plaintiff(s) in a case in Yokohama were awarded 50 million yen in damages after a 57 year old nurse was hit from behind at night by a 16 year old girl on her bicycle without her light on and while using her cell phone. Nurse could no longer walk properly and became unemployed.

Another big money case was a 37 year old man traveling at speed on his bicycle in Shibuya who ignored a red traffic light and plowed into a 55 year old woman walking through the intersection. The woman died from her head injuries 11 days later. Plaintiff(s) were awarded 54 million and the man also got 22 months in jail.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

When I was about 10, I rode my bicycle around my grand father's garden and coming quick around a bend slammed into an unexpected obstacle: my grandpas' slow-moving octogenarian cousin. I fell off the bike, he fell to the ground, no-one was badly injured, but that could have been otherwise. I was sincerely sorry, the old man gave me an ear-full and I learnt that my bicycle control skills could greatly be improved. I wasn't even the reckless type, more the bookish, stay-in-front-of-the-TV-all-day boy... But I still caused an accident. How on earth could you blame my parents for this?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

ambrosia

the only facts we know about this accident are what are in the post, anything else is speculation.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

ambrosia

I have quite a few formal qualifications in both science, physics and chemistry and also maths, being a former measurement, control and electrical engineer in the heavy chemical industry. I seen the cops here several times at the scenes of road accidents, not much science going on just a tape measure and some chalk and the photos then back to the koban for another round of green tea.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

zichi: and he could have also been using his brakes to slow his speed so it just guest work?

If you consider science and mathematics guess work, then yes, I suppose so. But because I'm not sure if you're legitimately asking or just being snarky, I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you aren't anti-science and anti-mathematics. I have no idea what kind of, if any, accident reconstruction/investigation went into this particular incident but the use of science and mathematics to determine the cause of accidents is quite real and recognized and would take into account whether or not he would have been using his brakes. You have taken physics classes, haven't you? If so, you must have at least a rudimentary idea of how it would work.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

This is absurd! I can see another suicide case! I hope I'm wrong. I hope the woman wakes up from her coma and and forgive the family. Tsk tsk.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

ambrosia

Accident investigators use things like the weight of the vehicle (bicycle), the incline of the road, and so on to determine the speed at impact. It's basic physics and geometry.

and he could have also been using his brakes to slow his speed so it just guest work?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

zichi: (1) what role did the victim play in causing the accident. Was she actually walking in the middle of the road, which I often see or to one side of the road?

Unless she suddenly ran out into the road, or was obstructed by signs, shrubbery, etc. any vehicle driver should have seen her and been able to have stopped in time. If not, then they could be cited for driving too fast for the conditions. Even in Japan, a bicycle is technically a light vehicle, which is why it's extremely important to teach people the rules of the road. As he was on a bicycle it's unlikely he didn't have enough room to avoid her. In any event, it's all around tragic, for the boy, the woman struck and both families and I think the amount demanded is obscene especially considering the boy was only 10 at the time.

(2) how could anyone know how fast the child was travelling on his bicycle?

Accident investigators use things like the weight of the vehicle (bicycle), the incline of the road, and so on to determine the speed at impact. It's basic physics and geometry.

gokai_wo_moneku: Well, it looks like further evidence that Japan is heading in the direction of the US

Contrary to popular opinion, the U.S. doesn't lead the world in lawsuits. That dubious distinction belongs to Germany. Though people just love to assume it's the U.S., Germany leads by nearly double per 1000 people. In Japan cases don't often go to a judicial court per se, but they will go to family courts and kuyakusho-type arbitration and those types of cases don't get counted in litigation statistics.

http://doelegal.blogspot.com/2011/03/global-litigation-rates-us-is-not.html

Cleo: Maybe the insurance company needs to get itself insurance to cover larger-than-planned payouts.

In many countries, insurance companies are usually insured though I'm not sure if that's the case in Japan. I knew a gal who worked for a reinsurance company and did business in Japan so I'd always assumed they were insured here too.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The insurance company is a joke, the judge is a joke. Why should the insurance company get paid, isn't that what the insurance company is for! Otherwise there should be no need for anyone to pay monthly fees. I wish they would name the insurance company and give it a bad rap. Judge must be corrupt.

THIS!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The insurance company is a joke, the judge is a joke. Why should the insurance company get paid, isn't that what the insurance company is for! Otherwise there should be no need for anyone to pay monthly fees. I wish they would name the insurance company and give it a bad rap. Judge must be corrupt.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The amount is ridiculous. The 35 million to pay her health care, that kind of make sense. But the 60 millions to the insurance. Why that ? Oh, BTW, yesterday on a bicycle thread there were many comments of ppl complaining cyclists were never held responsible in Japan. They must be happy now.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

What a crazy story. It definitely is a tragic accident, but, wow, 95 million yen is an absurd amount! How is the mother going to pay for this? And what is up with the insurance company getting the bulk of it? Sounds like a con to me!

And where did the judge get the notion that the mother "provided insufficient guidance to the child that may have prevented this accident.” How does she know? Maybe she's getting a cut from the insurance company!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Did she have zero responsibility?

Yup, zero. Pedestrians have the right of way here in Japan, with the exception of the toll-road/expressways. Also technically speaking if this woman was on a sidewalk it was up to the boy in question to give right of way to the elderly lady, no questions asked.

As noted earlier, Japanese elementary schools have safety campaigns every year that teach kids what to do and not to do when on a bicycle and this kid evidently did not follow the rules.

Sounds to me he was being a kid and having a great time which turned into a disaster. Is Mom responsible? Yes I do believe so, as the child is just that, a child, and it's up to the parents to take responsibility for their actions.

I do however believe that the amount is outrageously high. I can understand paying her medical bills but the 600K for the insurance company, (not yet noted WHICH company, if a company at all) is way too much.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Somebody please tell me where in the article it says that-

-she is a "poor" single mother

the judge didn't take into account the income of the woman, the possible child support, or the possibility that she is living with her parents who might be well off, they do live in Kobe by the way which isn't exactly Slumville, Japan

the child never learned about bicycle safety
0 ( +1 / -1 )

Well, it looks like further evidence that Japan is heading in the direction of the US.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Yubaru-

My most sincere apologies. It seems I was reading fast and age 95 stuck in my head.

Does that really change the substance of my comment, though? If as cleo said, she is 67, then:

And, dare I say it?, the old lady btw had 67 years to practice looking both ways before crossing the street, and to get used to the fact that some ppl don't follow rules, get excited and do unexpected things, especially young children. I wasn't there, but did she have zero responsibility herself?

and if she was 75, she had 75 yrs to learn about keeping a sharp eye out, and if 50, then 50 years. Did she have zero responsibility? My comment still stands.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

DOG

I am not saying that the mother is not liable for the child. She definitely is. But the punishment is totally and completely unjust. 95mil yen is going to ruin these people's lives. If it were a reasonable amount being paid completely to the family of the victim, THEN we are having a conversation. But having the majority of the judgement being paid BACK TO the insurance company is a crime!!!!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

There are some serious questions from the post

(1) what role did the victim play in causing the accident. Was she actually walking in the middle of the road, which I often see or to one side of the road?

(2) how could anyone know how fast the child was travelling on his bicycle?

(3) did anyone witness the accident?

(4) did the child ring his bell?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

This is absolutely ridiculous. Yes, the boy should have been much more careful but he was 10 years old for crying out loud. Every parent should be thinking "there but for the grace of God go I". There should definitely be stricter (and enforced) rules for cyclists though . Too many preventable incidents. It's perfectly socially acceptable for cyclists to ride like maniacs. Adults are doing it, so how can a child know much better? A sad case all around.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Maybe the higher ups want to scare people into buying bicycle insurance for their children.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Although Dog's post (above at 02.36pm) (02.36pm??huh??) indicates that such laws do exist, and are widespread. Interesting.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Sounds like a really idiotic decision, but I'd like to hear what law the judge referred to in making her decision.

Is there a law specifically holding parents responsible for their children's behaviour until a certain age?

Is there a law saying that parents of children are guilty until proven innocent regarding their negligent parenting in cases like these?

It seems the judge applied the logic that 'well he was doing something worng, so that's proof that he couldn't have been taiught properly to do it right", which is ludicrous.

According to Japanese versions, the insurance company has been paying insurance since it happened, but has decided it shouldn't have to.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The vernacular Sankei reports that the 'old lady' was 67 years old.

Pay for the victims's treatment, yes; pay the insurance company, hell no. What is insurance for, after all? Maybe the insurance company needs to get itself insurance to cover larger-than-planned payouts.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Well said Dog.

I am happy that Japan is finally starting to stand up and make parents take responsibilty for their kids. Is this amount too much? Already said it was. Perhaps this might scare a few other parents into doing their job of raising their kids to be responsible.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

I think that people are seeing "elderly" and the "95" million yen and superimposing them somehow to read elderly 95-year old woman. It's just from reading too quickly and carelessly.

Yep I do believe you are correct......Just like this one here too! People are not reading the articles and are commenting without knowing what they are talking about. It's sad really

Bickering over trivial matters that aren't trivial any longer. Million dollar fines for everyday accidents involving eight year old children. What kind of place is Japan?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Since the child was 10 years old at the time of the accident, he wasn't guilty of any crime and couldn't be charged of anything. Looks like the insurance company took the mother to court and the idiot judge awarded them an amount unpayable? The case should have been dismissed but I guess the judge got his brown envelope?

12 ( +13 / -1 )

citizen2012: I am almost about to consider some of them as doing "assault" with their bike used as a weapon when they are riding high speed and doing slalom between people without even rigging the bell when approaching in your back.

It's actually illegal for cyclists and drivers to ring their bells or honk their horns unless it's an emergency and just wanting to get past pedestrians is not an emergency. A good cyclist wouldn't be on the pavement to begin with but if they were and you were walking ahead of them, blocking their path, the polite thing for them to do would be to either get off the bike, excuse themselves and walk past you or to just wait for a -good sized - opening in which they could pass safely. None of this just squeezing past you nonsense.

bogva: But in the same time I also too often see UNAWARE pedestrians that think the sidewalk or the street is only theirs!!!

I agree that people could stand to be a little more aware of their surroundings but the sidewalk should be only for pedestrians. Contrary to what people seem to think, all studies I've read indicate that car / bicycle accidents increase when people cycle on the pavement. The bicycles become harder to see, feel a false sense of security and disregard lights and cautions and don't look before going through zebra crossings, which cars often edge into in order to see if anything is coming across the road ahead.

yubara: What article are you reading? Where did you get the old lady's age from?

I think that people are seeing "elderly" and the "95" million yen and superimposing them somehow to read elderly 95-year old woman. It's just from reading too quickly and carelessly.

Just an idea but how about holding the police responsible too since they are the ones who are responsible for public safety but constantly allow dangerous bicycle riding to go on, thereby setting a precedent for anyone who wants to tear down the pavement or ride on the wrong side of the road to do so with impunity?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is just a symbolic judgement??

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Marai Hayashi,

You seem all over the place or with a considerable lack of understanding of the law.

In nearly all societies with the rule of law, which Japan is not one of them (refer Olympus case) parents can be criminally held (refer to truancy laws and criminal damage laws) and civil held ( refer to vicariously liablity) for the acts of their children.

Your observations on what are or are not facts of the case have no bearing. The judge heard the facts of law and decided for the woman who was hit with the moving vehicle (the bike),

Unless Japanese civil code expplicitly states that a parent cannot be held vicariously liable for the actions of a minor - and let me save you the time, it doesn't - then the Judges decision was right, if the compensation was a little steep,

And let me enlighten you more, Japanese vicarious liability goes much further than that found in any of the civil codes of the supposed developed world. In Japan, under the guarantor system, another adult can be vicariously liable for the acts of another adult.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Readers, please stop bickering. Focus your comments on the story and not at each other.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@tmarie

No. You seemed to have been brought up in a third world country because you sound like you have never had a childhood and expected to act like and adult with adult responsibilities as a kid. Well, Japan isn't like that (for the most part anyways)...kids aren't expected to act or think like adults, so you should really leave that out of your arguments going forward.

There is no way the judge could base her ruling only on the mothers testimony, there had to be evidence given that the boy was not watched over as a child and ran wild, caused problems for others in and out of school too.

How do you know this? As someone already mentioned, the results of this case tells a lot. Who REALLY came out the winner here? Certainly not the boy or the mother (they will not learn anything from this ordeal other that they will be in debt for a very long time), Certainly not the victim. She will be in a coma probably until she dies. Victim's family? They were probably given just enough to cover medical expenses, and they lost a loved one...a winner? Hardly! The insurance company perhaps? Lets see...They don't have to pay the victim anymore, and they have the court system on their side for any future and similar litigation... get the picture?

I would look into the judge's past records to see how many times her rulings favored corporations instead of people, and see if there is some kind conflict interests there.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This is very unfortunate. If the old lady had just died the fee would have been much much lower.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Judge Tomoko Tanaka ordered that the mother pay a total of 95 million yen because she “provided insufficient guidance to the child that may have prevented this accident.”

How much does anyone care to bet that the judge in making her ruling here based it not only upon the "insufficient guidance" regarding his use of the bicycle, but also upon testimony from the boy's school and teachers.

There is no way the judge could base her ruling only on the mothers testimony, there had to be evidence given that the boy was not watched over as a child and ran wild, caused problems for others in and out of school too.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

95 million for a single mother, where in her lifetime would she get the money? anyway if they have many properties then so be it. but if there would be no other source of money other than being already rich then the judge also judge the mother and child death and future for the boy.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Yes, I was raised in a "third world" country because I don't share the same views and expect parents to riase their kids to be responsible. Classic.

And the old "kids will be kids" line. Do you hold the "boys will be boys" view as well?

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Terrible, terrible judgement with frightening ramifications.

Of the 95 million yen compensation, 35 million will go to the victim’s long-term care bills, and 60 million will go to her insurance company.

Who brought the suit - relatives of the victim, or the insurance company? The results tend to support the latter. Allowing insurance companies to recoup expenses due to payments for what are truly accidents is a poor precedent - the responsibility to cover such costs is, by definition, theirs.

Several netizens called for a stricter license system in Japan.

Does anyone here understand what the heck that means? Licenses for bicycles? Licenses for kids?

Really, allowing this to stand is another nail in the coffin for the future population of Japan. In effect, it requires parents to acquire liability insurance for their own children.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Accidents happen, except in Japan. Kids ride bikes and occassionally hit things, except in Japan. If this kid were truly this criminally negligent, then he should have spent time in reform school.

Million dollar fines like this don't even happen in the USA.

Japan looks more like the coldest, harshest and most unforgiving country in the developed world. More reasons to not visit the place. Imagine what would happen if a visitor were to clip an old lady accidentally while driving a shopping cart at the supermarket! TWENTY YEARS in the slammer and headline NEWS!

More Onion stories. No, this story is even too ridiculous for The Onion. The arguments FOR this stupid fine are even more insane than the court's.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

tmarie

Manslaughter means accidental death. It doesn't mean that there was no malicious intent behind it. See Trevon Martin trial as an example of a possible man slaughter conviction that had a possible malicious intent behind it. (sorry for the OT JT)

I certainly don't expect kids to behave as adults

Yes you do...and we have had this discussion before, remember? You somehow always want to put yourself in the equation, and write about how you were such a responsible kid....well not everyone is like you Tmarie...some kids are very immature and don't want to listen to their parents or think about the consequences of their actions...That's because they are KIDS!!! They don't have the ability comprehend that everything they do effects others in some way.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Hey, the kid was 10. The school and kotsuanzen are just as liable as the mother as they conduct bicycle safety classes every year at the schools. Stupid judge.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

they tend to be parents themseleves so again, let's hold the parents responsible.

I agree, parents should set an example for their kids by not riding their bikes like circus clowns on a high wire act.

Perhaps this will send a message to parents to spend a little more time with their kids, take more of an interest in them and teach them how to behave

Um...you're talking about something completely different here...you may want to come back on topic and not zone out here. If you're saying that parents should set a better example by riding their bikes more responsibly, then I am with ya.

However, as a child I was raised to be aware that some behaviour was dangerous. Many children are. You are using "He's a kid" as an excuse and guess what, that's why the kid isn't being expected to pay the money. His mom is.

Tmarie, I don't know where you where raised; sounds like a third would country to me (and I am not saying this to be snide -I gather this to be true from your past comments), but here and many other countries, kids are allowed to be kids, and are not expected to think or act like adults (except in this case apparently). Yeah, he did something awful, but rewarding an insurance company which amounts to nearly a million US dollars is ridiculous, and it teaches NOTHING other than the fact that corporations will do anything turn a buck.

I think someone had the right idea when they said that the boy should be ordered to visit this woman every week in the hospital for an hour until she eventually passes way. I think that would have a lot more impact on his life and the decisions he makes in the future. The mother should be order to pay for funeral expenses...this is a lot more reasonable and takes some burden off of the victims family members. The insurance company should get NOTHING, because they don't need the money nor should they get it.

As for what I would do if this was my mother...of course I would be angry and sad, but again...seeing people go into debt for the rest of their lives over an unfortunate accident is not what I would want to result from this. I would be even more angry and upset knowing that my insurance company was instigating this, and I would sue them for it.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Gotta love reading about court decisions and "justice" here. Someone remind me again - how many millions in fines were the guilty Olympus execs ordered to pay last week ? Oh, thats right , they GOT paid instead...and rode off into the sunset. Compare the treatment they received versus the treatment that this boy`s single mum got...

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Manslaughter is not malicious but people still get charged with it.

It was an example Mirai. Some, ahem, don't seem to understand that even if there is no malicious intent, people are held responsible for their actions. I didn't think it was that difficult to understand.

Yes, I am sure you would be all forgiving if you were footing millions of yen in hospital bills for your comatose mother who may never wake up again.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Manslaughter is not malicious but people still get charged with it.

Um..who died?

There is no different. I highly doubt you'd be so happy to forgive if this was your mother.

court awarding my insurance company and putting a mother and her child in debt for life wouldn't make me any happier.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

And indeed I am preaching bike safety because let's be honest, not too many others do which is why you have a society that act like idiots when it comes to riding a bike or being aware of cyclists and their rights. And sorry, no, not all cyclists here are idiots. The good majority of them are but anyone with a helmet on who is an adult tends to be pretty good. It's the idiots on the mamachari that need to be held responsible and guess what, they tend to be parents themseleves so again, let's hold the parents responsible. Perhaps this will send a message to parents to spend a little more time with their kids, take more of an interest in them and teach them how to behave. Would you be so flippant about this if that was your mom laying in a coma? I highly doubt it.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

And Mirai, you seem to think that all children shouldn't be raised to be responsible and think for others. You also seem to think that kids are idiots that can't be taught responsibilty and how to behave which I disagree with. The kid in question was ten at the time, not five, not three, ten. Most kids I've met and have spent time with are on the ball at the age of ten - when they are expected to be - which is a major issue here in this country because many are not expected to be.

I certainly don't expect kids to behave as adults. Let's be honest, many adults all over the world behave as chidlren. However, as a child I was raised to be aware that some behaviour was dangerous. Many children are. You are using "He's a kid" as an excuse and guess what, that's why the kid isn't being expected to pay the money. His mom is.

-9 ( +0 / -9 )

And, dare I say it?, the old lady btw had 95 years to practice looking both ways before crossing the street, and to get used to the fact that some ppl don't follow rules, get excited and do unexpected things, especially young children. I wasn't there, but did she have zero responsibility herself?

What article are you reading? Where did you get the old lady's age from?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

sound like this is a civil lawsuit as opposed to criminal (some people seem to be mixing that up) and likely brought by the insurance company to try and recover as much as possible from what they have already paid out. as for 95mm yen, i would argue that is not an unreasonable amount for taking a life (after being in a coma for 5+ years she is not likely to recover and her life is essentially over) and quite cheap by western standards. as to whether it was justified or not, we know nothing about the kind of people the mom and kid are so i can't say but apparently the judge found them to not sufficiently remorseful enough to award them 95mm so...

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Not surprising in Japan where the majority of govt etc are senior citizens with nothing but contempt for the young

4 ( +7 / -3 )

tmarie

You seem to think that all children think like you...or think like an adult. Here is the truth: THEY DON'T. How do you know that the kid wasn't taught bicycle safety? Here is one thing that a lot kids like to do: ride their bikes really fast down hills, and some kids will do it even if they know its dangerous. Why? Because they are KIDS!!! He was only 10 years old when this happened. You can't expect a 10 year old to take in account for all of the consequences of their actions...otherwise they'd responsible be adults.

Secondly, you're preaching "bicycle safety" in a society where they allow people to ride against traffic, in the middle of the street, carrying two or more kids on their bikes, while holding an umbrella or other things in their hands...REALLY. If this judge is going to hold the mother responsible for poor bicycle safety, then she needs to pull in every single bicycle rider in the country because they are ALL need safety training.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

It is sad for all concerned.

And, dare I say it?, the old lady btw had 95 years to practice looking both ways before crossing the street, and to get used to the fact that some ppl don't follow rules, get excited and do unexpected things, especially young children. I wasn't there, but did she have zero responsibility herself?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

it was an accident !!its not clear what will happen if she refuse to pay a mare 95 million YEN

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

The collision fractured the woman’s skull and put her into a coma, which as of this writing she still hasn’t come out of. Of the 95 million yen compensation, 35 million will go to the victim’s long-term care bills, and 60 million will go to her insurance company.

I am curious just who her insurance company is. Typically speaking the elderly have National Health Insurance, (government subsidized) and maybe a private carrier that pays a per day amount for in-patient care.

There is again a serious lack of information here regarding just who sued this woman and her son in the first place. Her insurance could very well be the government itself, and maybe that is one reason for the amount being awarded in compensation.

Typically Japanese courts DO NOT award large awards for accidents or even death in vehicular accidents.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Most ridiculous charge I've seen, with an unbelievably unjust penalty.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

nice ruling by the judge..... i also saw an old lady hit by a bicycle rider , a high school. the grandma fell on her back while the high school boy did not even try stop and say sorry nor help the senior woman, he even had this annoying smile on his face......it was obvious that it was no accident but a complete insensitivity of the rider. the lady was walking at the walk lane, it was not a busy street....i tend to think the boy just want to see people hurt......

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Maybe the child should be forced to serve as the old lady's butler every day for the rest of her life? Because I somehow doubt the kids mum is going to find a million bucks any time soon.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

To want reimbursement from a child and his mother, for what is clearly an accident (and not a malicious act) is insane.

An accident that could have been avoided if this child had been raised with an awareness about bike safety and wasn't biking like a bat out of hell. It doesn't matter if it was a malicious act or not. Manslaughter is not malicious but people still get charged with it. Slipping and falling on water in a grocery store is negligence and stores get sued and have to pay up. There is no different. I highly doubt you'd be so happy to forgive if this was your mother.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

The accident may have been avoided if the child was properly educated in bicycle safety etc. If other accidents are prevented as a result of this case, then so be it.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Its the job of the insurance company to pay for the medical bills when such incidents happens. To want reimbursement from a child and his mother, for what is clearly an accident (and not a malicious act) is insane. But what is more insane is the judge who rules in favor of the corporation. The judge should be fired for being a corporatist pig!

6 ( +9 / -3 )

...then suddenly the insurance company gets back over half a million dollars.

Suddenly as in you just read it, yes. The company has been shelling out millions (of yen, it's in Japan) since 2008.

Accident happened in late September just before 7pm. I think it's already dark by then. Light or no light, you don't do 20-30 km/hr down a hill. That's fast for a bicycle when people come out of shops, behind objects etc etc etc.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Why punish the mom?

Because the mom is the legal adult who is in charge of raising her child and looking out for their welfare. Who else can they punish? The teachers? No doubt some would like to in such cases. This child is lucky he wasn't seriously injured of killed.

While I think the fine is a crazy amount of money, and will never be paid, I am glad that Japan is actually holding a parent responsible for their child's actions. Why? Because so many here don't bother to teach their kids bike safety, amongst many other things. They see it as the schools' job or societies job. The time has come that the law needs to start fining/charging parents to take responsibility for their kids.

How can you judge if the mom was responsible? Do you think a child who was taught how to ride a bike properly would be zooming down a hill at such speed to cause brain fractures and leave a woman in a coma for five years? Kids will be kids but come on, I think most of us were taught to have "stupid" moments away from the public. I know that when I wanted to tbe a dare devil I went where no one could see me. 20-30 KM is incredibly fast for someone that age, more so one a sidewalk and, no doubt, he had no helmet on.

I also think that some of you are forgetting that parents can now face punishments like jail time for the behaviour of their kids in some countries. I am all for that. It seems to be one of the only ways to get some parents to take responsibilty for their kids and raise them properly. I wish all countries would punish the parents of children/teenagers who are causing problems for others.

If anyone is the victim in this story, it is the women who is lying in a coma and her family that is shelling out the money to look afer her, not to mention suffering from it all.

As for the cries of "Where is the father?" some of youy need to learn about custody laws here.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

What the %&$# did I just read?! 95 MILLON?! That's outrageous. A boy riding "too fast" down a hill. Last time I checked at 15 "too fast" isn't in your vocabulary and grandma should have looked both ways before crossing the street. I can see having to pay her medical bills, but this is ludicrous.

Goodness gracious..(READ THE ARTICLE PLEASE!)...He wasnt 15 at the time of the accident. It's relatively easy to see why the court ruled against the mother in this case but like other posters have noted, it does seem that the insurance companies were looking to cover their losses in this case.

As a parent I am responsible to a large degree for what my underage children do, have had to pay for a few broken windows from missed catches in my time, until I got insurance coverage to pay for it.

But the amount is ludicrous and out of proportion to the accident.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

What the %&$# did I just read?! 95 MILLON?! That's outrageous. A boy riding "too fast" down a hill. Last time I checked at 15 "too fast" isn't in your vocabulary and grandma should have looked both ways before crossing the street. I can see having to pay her medical bills, but this is ludicrous.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Judge Tomoko Tanaka ordered that the mother pay a total of 95 million yen because she “provided insufficient guidance to the child that may have prevented this accident.” Several netizens called for a stricter license system in Japan.

Just ridiculous! The Japanese still don't seem to understand that sometimes, bad stuff happens. Even if everyone in the country wears a face mask, if everyone goes for a full-body medical checkup every three months, if no one goes outside when it's too hot or too cold, if every child is wrapped up in cotton wool and forbidden from playing outside, if everyone has bought separate insurance for their pets, their teeth, etc., if every housewife spends 10 hours a day removing 'germs' from throughout their houses, bad stuff still happens.

You also can't legislate in an attempt to prevent bad things from ever happening, and fining a single mother the equivalent of a lifetime's salary doesn't help anyone except the insurance company.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I agree JeffLee. When you look at the numbers, this lawsuit is all about the insurance company escaping from liability.

If it was a freak accident, the insurance company doesn't recoup any money, and the poor old lady's bills are paid for by the insurance company.

But if it was negligence on someone else's part, in this case the young boy's mother... then suddenly the insurance company gets back over half a million dollars. Did you all read that correctly??

60 MILLION YEN awarded to the insurance company because they can afford an expensive law firm, no doubt.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Terrible for all sides... Few points are missing as noted though. I guess the women were on the sidewalk but... were they aware of the (moving) life around them? I too often see bad riders not slowing down at crossings or coming downhill and turning which I hate to see. But in the same time I also too often see UNAWARE pedestrians that think the sidewalk or the street is only theirs!!!

This is especially truth for elder people as well as school children blocking the street. Using bell in this cases is necessary and most importantly good education for the one using the vehicles. Police coming to school teach the kids very bizarre things - it seems more important for them to get of the bike when crossing railway but they don't stress enough which side of the road, how to give hand sign when turning or when they must slow down, etc.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Interesting. Based on my recollection this is several multiples more than the patients who received AIDS tainted blood got, 95 million yen more than that Nepalese guy got after wrongful imprisonment for 20 odd years, etc.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

Where is she going to bring this money and more than 60% goes to Insurance Co. !!!!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

If my dog attacks someone , I'm responsible, so what's the difference with an 8 year old?

The boy is 15 now in 2013 subtract when the incident happened in 2008, that's five years ago. So who was 8 years old when the incident happened?

Some people have frighteningly bad comprehension skills.

Take your own advice maybe?

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

Perhaps the mom should sue the bike company for not emphasizing the dangers of riding a bike and also potential lawsuits resulting from insufficient education of it? Let the bike and insurance companies figure this one out.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

I have taken out insurance for injury and damage my kids might cause... by being kids. It's quite reasonable, but I'll be checking the maximum amount payable tonight - I've got a feeling it's not 100M

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Until children are of a legal age, the parent is responsible for their actions. So many kids out there lack proper supervision and understanding of right and wrong. I have to constantly tell the children around me about what's right and what's not because many of the adults simply refuse to do it. I feel for the mother but she is accountable. When the boy is able to fend for himself he should also help pay the cost.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

kimuzukashiiiii doubt he has a dad. Most likely he just left her pregnant and alone. Oh after a divorce he has no responsibility as well. Not sure if she has to pay but remember this is Japan. They follow the rules no matter how stupid! They could take every last yen and still demand more.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

The mother surely can't pay 95 million yen in her life time. The harsh punishment seem to be a lesson/example for so many other terrible bicyclists not following the bike rule

Agree with you on both counts, although the sum is for future medical expenses and the 60 million to the insurance company is reimbursement for expenses already paid by them. The plaintiffs (family of the injured woman and the insurance company) sought close to 106 million yen.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Before you get all decisive about if it is fair or unfair, you should be given all the facts that make a significant difference to this story such as, was the boy riding on the footpath or the road. If he was on the road he was probably well within the speed limit and thuslesser liability if at all. However typically JT does not have this crucial info in the article.

Yet again it also comes back to the laws relating to where bicycles can ride and what speed or whatever else there is to consider in these cases. I can't see any evidence one way or the other that suggests he was or was not in violation of the law because the law is in one of those grey zones and never enforced just make it even more grey.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

@Citizen2012

I am almost about to consider some of them as doing "assault" with their bike used as a weapon when they are riding high speed and doing slalom between people without even rigging the bell when approaching in your back.

I agree ! On the other hand, I personally would prefer they do NOT ring their bells behind me... pedestrians have priority over bicycle riders according to the (Shibuya) police. They should find another way to "go around" someone if they absolutely MUST ride on the pavements.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It's just a ruling so the court doesn't appear cold-hearted towards the woman in the coma and her family. I doubt she'll have to pay. She'll just be in debt but won't actually have to pay.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Who brought the suit? The husband of the woman and the insurance company. What kind of bicycle was it? A mountain bike.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

so many other terrible bicyclists not following the bike rule.

very true, I am almost about to consider some of them as doing "assault" with their bike used as a weapon when they are riding high speed and doing slalom between people without even rigging the bell when approaching in your back.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

What a waste of court time and public funds.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

The mother surely can't pay 95 million yen in her life time. The harsh punishment seem to be a lesson/example for so many other terrible bicyclists not following the bike rule. She would not need to pay that money if she reports family "bankruptcy" to the local court. If can not, it would make her commit a suicide sooner or later, then it would be all pointless about the trial.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

A very unfortunate accident and nothing more. In this case and so many more, common sense certainly doesn't prevail in Japanese law.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

I wonder if the "single mother" aspect of it had any bearing on the judge's ruling and excessive fine.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

This is a ridiculous law suit. It wasn't intentional, and the child is a minor doing what all children do. Nothing good is come out of this. The boy committed no crime, so there is no lesson to be taught. Both parties where in the wrong place at the wrong time...simply put, and yet the mother and possibly the child will be in debt for the rest of their lives.

provided insufficient guidance to the child that may have prevented this accident

How did she know this? The might have told her child several times not to ride so fast down the hill, but kids will be kids.

35 million will go to the victim’s long-term care bills, and 60 million will go to her insurance company

Why the hell is her insurance company getting majority of the money? Profiting off of someone else's misfortune...highway robbery!!

6 ( +10 / -4 )

95 million yen!!!, Oh yeh I,ll just get it from under my pillow........

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Does the Judge hate women? I think so. Besides its ridiculous to assume children can be controlled at all times. Its a tragic accident which probably would not have happened if the old lady wore a helmet!! (no laws for that) Running away seems the best option for anyone now.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

This is ridiculous -- especially the amount. Make the kid do some community service, if worse comes to worse, including some help for the elderly woman at the hospital, but to demand the mother pay 95 million because of a 'lack of guidance'?

9 ( +14 / -5 )

Enough of this already. While I agree that the mother has a great responsibility for her son, this kind of ruling just sounds ridiculous. How is anyone going to pay that in a lifetime. On a single pay, nonetheless. This whole "your family is responsible for you"-attitude in Japan seem like something from back in the 1500's where everybody had the same name and lived in clans. It has nothing to do with modern society. Then again, I keep forgetting that Japan isn't all that modern...

Here's what I believe: punishments should fit the crime. Punishments should also strive to make societies better, by for example deterring people from committing similar crimes. In this case, we're talking about an accident, (a serious obe, but still) that was caused by a kid. There might be details about the mother's involvement we are not aware of, but I fail to see how this could gave been prevented. Some punishment, sure. 95 million? Come on...

And who is going to pay me for all the time I get hit by geriatrics and housewifes on mamachari, seemingly thinking "My Way" is the only tune that counts. More selfish things than Japanese people on bikes are hard to find.

15 ( +19 / -4 )

This is too harsh。The boy was 10 YEARS old and the amount is too much for her to EVER pay. I bet shes lucky if she earns 2million a year.

Interestingly no-one is going after the father for half of the money for being a failure as a dad to his son?

And the insurance companies make me mad - Its their JOB to pay.

15 ( +23 / -8 )

How can the court prove she didn't provide "guidance" short of bugging her home during all the child-rearing years?

The victim's insurance corporation pocketed the bulk of the loot, and that is the operative factor in this case, it seems to me.

When I did stupid things as a kid, my parents, teachers and occasionally the cops came down on me, not on my minders. But then, I didn't grow up as a spoiled brat.

12 ( +17 / -5 )

An eight year old child is legally permitted, indeed required, to leave the parents property unattended, whilst a dog must be leashed, for a start. A ridiculous comparison. Can we now sue parents of adult criminals too? Can I sue the driving instuctor who taught the guy who hit my car ? I hope this gets overturned on appeal. Children are sentient,indrpendent beings who make decisions based on their limited experience. It's part of life in a society.

18 ( +25 / -7 )

If the kids follow the example of adults on bikes and scooters its amazing that things like this don't happen all the time. Bike and motor bike safety in this country are complete rubbish.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

TumbleDryJul. 08, 2013 - 07:31AM JST

15 is old enough to understand the risks.

Some people have frighteningly bad comprehension skills.

According to the court, the incident occurred in 2008 when the boy was an elementary school student.

I say good fot the courts. I get tired of this parental attitude that once they've dropped the kid, its society's responsibility to look after them.

If my dog attacks someone , I'm responsible, so what's the difference with an 8 year old?

-5 ( +11 / -16 )

Why punish the mom? When I was a kid, I've been instructed by my parents and the cops whom came every year in my school to explain bicycle safefty. It didn't bother me riding fast. Haven't crash on anything or anyone. Lucky maybe. 15 is old enough to understand the risks. Still, someone has to pay for the bills...

-4 ( +7 / -11 )

Might as well made it 95 billion, either amount is equally impossible to pay. The plaintiffs will still get nothing, the victim will not care either way. The judical system in Japan is becoming more like that in America.

8 ( +14 / -6 )

Hardly spare cash is it? Single Mother is going to get this sort of money from where?

8 ( +14 / -6 )

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