Visitor Question

Can I sue for psychological trauma after being accosted in a mall parking lot?

Submitted By: Melanie (York, SC, USA)

My daughter and I were accosted in a mall parking lot December 23rd. After I pulled into a parking space someone else had evidently thought they had dibbs on, the couple pulled their car around to the next aisle and, screaming across the lot, cussed me out and flipped me off. My 12-year-old was scared to death.

The couple then parked, walked to my van as I was gathering my things to go into the store, and began pounding their fists on my windows, yelling obscenities and taunting us. My daughter cowered in the back seat crying. I called 911, a cop came out of the store the couple went into, and the cop did not make a report or make any attempt to help us in any way.

My daughter has been traumatized by this and will not leave the house. Can we seek to identify these people and file a lawsuit against them for their actions; or can we sue the store where we were accosted for not having surveillance equipment in the parking lot; or hold the store responsible in some way for not taking appropriate action for what was at the very least a PDC offense (Public Disorderly Conduct)?

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Melanie,

You really need to forget about the incident. “Stuff Happens” is the best way we can put it.

Unless you are able to show your daughter suffered some serious psychological injuries tantamount to post-traumatic stress disorder, you really don’t have a case.

Although you may believe your daughter suffered injuries, your belief won’t be enough. In the legal world there must be much more.

Proving your daughter suffered psychological injuries will require a medical or psychological diagnosis and prognosis of your daughter’s injuries.

Unless your daughter can convince the doctors she has been psychologically traumatized you really should move on.

The police won’t usually officially respond unless there is a crime in progress.

Although cursing at you and pounding on your van’s doors might be stretched to Disturbing the Peace, it is doubtful you will be able to rely on that alone for any type of a legal claim.

Time heals many wounds.

We’ll be willing to bet by the time you read this you will have already begun to move on to other more important matters.

Learn more here: Compensation for Emotional Distress

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.

Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,


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