If you’re a landowner facing eminent domain, you’re probably concerned about many unknowns in your future. But one of the biggest questions on your mind might be: How long do eminent domain cases take

Though the timeline can certainly vary depending on the case, the average length of an eminent domain case that requires litigation lasts 12-18 months, and the average length of an eminent domain case that does not require litigation usually lasts between 3-6 months.

A good rule of thumb for eminent domain cases: if it requires litigation, it will last about double the length of time, and whether it requires litigation depends on how far apart the parties are. 

Why Does It Take This Long?

So why does an eminent domain case take so long to resolve? A year or more can be a lot for a landowner wondering how much compensation they’ll receive for their land. And it certainly feels even longer for the landowner hoping to stop eminent domain completely.

Here are a few of the main reasons eminent domain cases take 12-18 months to resolve.

1. The Nature of the Condemnor

Eminent domain acquisitions largely are performed by local, state, or federal authorities which means that bureaucracy is involved at every step of the way. This means that each decision may need approval from someone else. The more cooks in the kitchen, the longer it takes for a meal to be completed. Litigation or not, your case will take longer than a traditional land conveyance simply due to the methodical and sometimes tedious oversight that is involved.

2. Statutory and Court Timeframes

Many states have condemnation procedures which demand certain timeframes to lapse prior to next steps being taken. For example, state law may require a condemnor to wait 60 days after an offer is issued to initiate eminent domain proceedings. This, obviously, can extend the time it takes to resolve a matter. Furthermore, if a case reaches litigation, the parties are at the mercy of the speed of the court’s docket. Simply put, a case may take 12-18 months not because anyone is doing anything wrong or dragging their feet but rather simply because a court’s docket is full.

3. Difference in Opinion

If you and the condemnor are millions of dollars apart in your positions on just compensation, it is unlikely that the parties will bridge that gap without intensive expert cross-examination (depositions) and evidence preparation. And if both parties can’t come to an agreement, then the only way to resolve it is to have a jury decide. A case that requires a jury trial will obviously take longer to resolve than one that does not. Therefore, the larger the difference in opinion between the condemned and the condemnor, the longer, on average, the case will take.

Get the Compensation You Deserve

Don’t stumble through the eminent domain process alone. The attorneys at Sever Storey are ready to help with your case and ensure you get the best possible outcome and compensation for your land. From commercial to residential property, we can help with any type of eminent domain acquisition across the U.S. Contact us today to get the compensation you deserve.