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In the first part of this guide, we discussed the concept of eminent domain generally, the public purpose requirement, and the idea of just compensation. In section two, we’ll discuss some of the more complicated procedural aspects of an eminent domain case as well why it is important for property owners to obtain the representation of an attorney – and how much a lawyer will cost you.
Contrary to what you may assume, eminent domain cases usually begin with a phone call or a knock on the door rather than a lawsuit. Typically, the party seeking to exercise eminent domain contacts a landowner prior to any legal action with an offer to buy the property. They may disclose the fact that they believe they can use eminent domain to obtain the property or not. Typically, at this stage, the party seeking the land is trying to resolve the case as quickly and cheaply as possible – often resulting in lowball offers that should be rejected.
If you are like many people, you are happy where you are and don’t want to uproot your life just because someone is interested in your land for their project. If you refuse to sell, the interested party can go to the court and file a condemnation action in order to obtain the property by exercising the power of eminent domain. If the party is authorized to exercise eminent domain and the proposed taking is for a public use, the court will likely force a sale of the property.
Yes, it is possible to challenge the exercise of eminent domain itself. For example, an attorney could argue that the party trying to exercise eminent domain is not authorized to do so or that the proposed use of the property does not meet the public use requirement. It is important to understand, however, that courts have granted the government broad latitude in eminent domain cases and allow it to delegate the ability to take private property to agencies and certain businesses. As a result, most eminent domain disputes involve property owners trying to maximize the amount they receive for their property rather than challenging the exercise of eminent domain itself.
If the government is going to take your property against your will, you may as well get as much money as you can for it. At Sever Storey, our skilled attorneys focus on representing the rights of landowners and understand how to maximize the compensation they receive. In addition, we are not afraid to challenge an attempted exercise of eminent domain should the facts justify doing so. To schedule a free case evaluation with one of our lawyers, call our office today at 888-318-3761 or send us an email through our online contact form.
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