What Is Eminent Domain?

Eminent domain is the right of the government to take private property for public use. The right of the federal government to exercise eminent domain is found in the Fifth Amendment of the U.S Constitution, and all 50 states have provisions that allow them to exercise eminent domain in some capacity.

Who Can Exercise Eminent Domain?

While the language above may make it seem like only the government can exercise eminent domain, states often grant public utilities the power to exercise public domain as well. Examples of utilities that often have the right to exercise eminent domain are those that operate in the energy or transportation sectors. This is why many current and controversial issues regarding eminent domain involve private companies.

What Is a “Public Use?”

The term “public use” is similarly misleading to many people. Courts have construed the requirement that a taking is for the public use very broadly. While it is clear that taking property to build hospitals, roads, school, and infrastructure would be for public use, it may come as a surprise to many that private property may be seized and transferred to another private property for the purpose of economic development.

How Is Just Compensation Determined?

The determination of just compensation is often the most contested issue in many cases involving eminent domain. Generally speaking, just compensation is determined by looking at the fair market value of a given piece of property. In cases of disputes, this often comes down to a “battle of the appraisers.” In cases where just compensation is disputed, it is extremely important for landowners to retain an attorney familiar with eminent domain law in their jurisdiction.

How a Condemnation Attorney Can Help

When you are facing an eminent domain claim, a knowledgeable attorney can help in many ways, including the following:

  1. Determine whether use of your claimed land is necessary for the project
  2. Make sure the project is a valid public use
  3. Help negotiate the scope of any easements on your property
  4. Review offers of compensation and negotiate an amount you deserve
  5. Represent you in court hearings
  6. Protect your rights throughout the entire legal process

Call Sever Storey Today to Speak with an Eminent Domain Attorney

If you are a landowner whose land could be subject to an eminent domain action, you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible. For a free case review with one of our attorneys, call Sever Storey today at 888-318-3761 or send us an email through our online contact form.

1 https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/eminent_domain

2 https://www.congress.gov/constitution-annotated/