Private Parking Garage Structure Property Damage
The premise of the case is the following:
-I approach the entrance of parking structure that is equipped with automated lift gates with the intent to park from late evening until around midnight.
-The lift gates operate by reading the user's credit card, no ticket is given.
-I fail to make the gate open after several attempts at inserting and retrieving my credit card, at which point a parking attendant assisted me and I was able to get in and park the vehicle.
-A couple hours later past midnight I return and attempt to exit the parking structure, as instructed by the attendant earlier, by inserting the same credit card used into the machine operating the exit gate. I was unsuccessful.
-Several attempts later, I was still unable the gate. No one was around the gate to provide assistance. I noticed there was an "intercom" button in the machine to call for assitance. Someone answered and said there would be an attendant there to help me shortly.
-Perhaps 5 to 10 minutes later (maybe more), no one showed up to assist. Pressing the intercom button again did not get a response.
-I then procedded to lift the gate using my vehicle, as I believed I was going to be trapped in this garage for a further considerable amount of time. I became indignant of the situation, as I feel no business should be able to detain you or your property and especially due to negligence to maintain/upkeep their equipment or provide an alternative means of operating the gate (which they did when entering in order to get customers in the garage).
-I was contacted by a private investigator, presumably hired by the garage operator, who left me a voicemail explaining I had damaged the gate and I was going to be liable for dagames. He requested I contacted him back to get an address so he could send an invoice. He then treatened with legal action, explaining the event could be charged as a misdemeanor
. He gave a 1 business day time frame to respond before contacting the authorities.
I would appreciate you elaborate on the following :
1) What are my legal options in this case.
2) What are the lawful requirements of privately operated garage establishments as it regards ***** ***** / egress and property retrieval.
3) In case of a settelment where I'm required to pay for the claimed damages, do I have any rights to request an explanation of the amount sought and to a 3rd party estimate? I have the feeling the amount that will be requested will be exorbitant. I also suspect this may be a new clever scam, in which they prey on people's urgency, emergency, and dignity as a means of entrapment.
Thank you very much.