If a vehicle travels through a crosswalk while a pedestrian is in the crosswalk (assuming the law in the applicable jurisdiction states that a vehicle must stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk), is it legal for the pedestrian to damage the vehicle, e.g. by hitting it with a part of his or her body or some other implement?

It seems to me there's a fine line distinguishing between a circumstance where the vehicle hits the person and one where the person hits the vehicle, and it would seem that the law would favor the pedestrian.

  • 2
    I imagine that intentionally causing damage to the car when a reasonable person could have safely avoided doing so would be vandalism. Do you have a reason to believe otherwise? If a reasonable person would feel the damage you caused was necessary or helpful in avoiding injury to yourself which would have been the fault of the driver, then it's probably just an accident and something the insurance can work out.
    – Patrick87
    Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 14:10
  • "assuming the law in the applicable jurisdiction states that a vehicle must stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk" The laws also typically state that pedestrians can't just enter the crosswalk whenever they want.
    – Andy
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 23:20

1 Answer 1


No, it is generally not legal. In most (maybe all) states, this would be vandalism. For example, see California Penal Code Section 594(1)(a):

Every person who maliciously commits any of the following acts with respect to any real or personal property not his or her own, in cases other than those specified by state law, is guilty of vandalism:

(1) Defaces with graffiti or other inscribed material.

(2) Damages.

(3) Destroys.

For another example, see Kansas Statutes 21-5813.

In your hypothetical, the pedestrian absolutely hit the vehicle, not the other way around, so the "fine line" you mention doesn't effect this conclusion. The practicality of proving the case against the pedestrian is a separate matter but the law favours neither the pedestrian nor the driver. The standard is the same no matter who the charges are filed against: proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

  • So then from that I can infer that the fact that the pedestrian is in a crosswalk is irrelevant, i.e. it doesn't change the situation from a legal standpoint?
    – rory.ap
    Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 15:56
  • It allows you to be annoyed with the driver, it allows you to take photos and send evidence to the police, it doesn't allow you to damage the car.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 13:23
  • 1
    @nomen agentis: "Beyond reasonable doubt" for a criminal conviction. Much lower standard for having to pay damages in a civil court.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Apr 18, 2016 at 13:24

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