So You Got in a China Car Crash — Now What?

So You Got in a China Car Crash — Now What?
Jun 05, 2018 By Degen Hill ,

Let's imagine that you're buzzing around town, riding your bike or perhaps even an electric scooter. At any point in time, you could be hit by a car. As expats in China, we might think about it, maybe even fear it, but besides a few close-calls, thankfully, most of us haven't been hit. However, the possibility always remains. So what should you do if you get into a China car crash?

Photo: Wikimedia

Assess the Damage
You pick yourself up, shake off the initial shock and start figuring out how bad of a crash it is. If you’re lying unconscious on the street, hopefully someone will do the right thing and call the emergency services.

If you’re conscious, start with yourself. Are you physically hurt? Any broken bones? Just some cuts and scrapes? Next, check your bike or scooter. Is it broken, damaged or just scuffed? Make sure your phone is intact and that nothing in your backpack was damaged.

If at this point neither you nor your property is damaged and the same goes for the other driver, you might just have to accept that sometimes crap happens. If you don’t require hospital treatment and none of your stuff needs to be fixed, there’s no point blocking the road and arguing about it — just move on.

I’ve been in a number of accidents, both my fault and the other driver’s fault, over the past few years, and most times I’ve simply talked with the person, exchanged, “be more careful” and an angry glance, and continued on my way.

Dealing with the other driver
The driver of the other vehicle involved in the accident will be displaying one of two attitudes: 1) This is entirely your fault and they are not to blame. 2) The driver knows they made a mistake and, although they won’t openly admit that, their silence and/or apologetic nature speaks volumes.

This is generally where the formalities of “Are you ok?” or “What the *%&$ were you thinking?” will occur. Drivers typically like to blame the other person, because blame usually means financial costs, and no-one wants to cough up cash.

Each situation will of course be different, but try to talk with the driver and figure out what happened. This can often be the most challenging part. There will likely be anger as well as a language barrier, which will lead to even more anger. It’s important to stay calm and speak with a level-head, even if your companion is shouting.

Handing Damages
If there is damage and a dispute about whose fault it is, stay where you are and phone the police. This means continuing to block the road for other users, however, so don’t expect to receive much love. When the police arrive they will first clear the road, and then check CCTV footage and decide who is to blame.

If, however, one person admits responsibility for the accident, you can simply fill out a “speedy report form” (快速处理). There’s a 99 percent chance most foreigners won’t have one of these on them at the time of an accident, but the other driver just might. If you’re really smart, download the form here and keep a few in your vehicle.

You’ll also need to take pictures of the damage to your property and a picture of the other driver’s ID. This is the most ideal situation, as you won’t block the road and the compensation can be handled later by the insurance companies.

The crowd
I still haven’t been able to figure out why there will always be a crowd around any China car crash. Regardless of the reason, a crowd will form, either because you and the driver are yelling at each other, or because you’ve just picked yourself up off the street and the onlookers want to see how things will play out.

First tip, don’t yell at the crowd; they’re not going to leave, and turning them hostile will not help your case. Second tip, don’t engage them. At some point, they’ll either take a side or pitch in their two-cents.

I was in a crash once (bike on bike) and the girl’s flip-flop had broken. She and I were handling it, when all of the sudden a middle-aged woman chipped in “You should pay her 200 RMB”, to which I foolishly started to negotiate with this stranger about. Again, just speak with the other person involved in the accident and ignore the crowd.

The resolution
Every situation is different, but most of us would probably rather leave without a fuss if there is no serious damage. However, maybe your phone broke or your Ray-Bans were crushed and you want to be compensated.

In my experience, you’re unlikely to get any money without police involvement unless it’s very clearly the other driver’s fault. No-one’s going to cough up kuai solely based on your personal assessment of how much it will cost to have your stuff fixed.

This also works to your advantage, however. If the accident was clearly your fault and the driver says the tiny scratches to his car will cost 3,000 RMB to repair, wait for the police assessment and then wait for the driver to issue you with an invoice from the mechanic. That way you can be sure you’re not being taken advantage of.

For the sake of convenience and safety, I hope none of you are ever involved in a China car crash. It’s always a possibility, however, so make sure you know the steps to take if the worst occurs.

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Keywords: China car crash


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Access the damage

Apr 15, 2020 01:28 Report Abuse



yes, I shipped a car over here, and as soon as I saw the driving here, I sold the damn thing as soon as the papers cleared. The good news was I made a profit since I had no duty to pay, but it could have been a huge loss.

Jun 05, 2018 21:56 Report Abuse