As a landowner facing eminent domain, you likely have many questions about what the future will hold. Your property is being taken away from you, and you can’t get a straight answer from anyone about how eminent domain works and what to expect.
Fortunately, our team of experienced eminent domain and condemnation attorneys is here for you during this tumultuous time. We’ll break down the steps of exactly what happens in the eminent domain compensation process—and what we can do to ensure you get what you are entitled to under the law.
Long before an eminent domain notice ever reaches your doorstep, a municipality, department of transportation, or other governmental entity announces plans to construct a new project—and it’s going to require your land. According to federal and state law, the government can take private property for the purpose of public use, but they are also required to provide you, the landowner, with “just compensation” for this acquisition.
This isn’t as easy as it sounds. Often, a landowner will go it alone and not get the compensation they deserve.
Once the government has determined what land it needs for the project, it needs to determine what it owes the landowners to take this land. In order to do this, governments will enlist the assistance of appraisers and/or valuation experts to determine what the properties are worth. This valuation generally determines the government’s offer of compensation to the landowner.
It is important to remember that property valuation is an incredibly subjective process–in fact, it is entirely subjective. Meaning that just because a government appraiser comes out to your property and renders a valuation, doesn’t mean that valuation is correct or accurate–and often it is not. For this reason, it’s essential to contact the experts at Sever Storey to get a free review of any government appraisals or offers issued on your property.
Once the government or condemnor has an idea what the property is worth (according to their appraisers), it will issue an offer to the landowner that is based on that appraisal. This offer is known as a pre-condemnation offer because not only does it serve as an opportunity for the government to acquire the property if accepted, it also serves as a necessary prerequisite for filing a condemnation action, if the government so chooses.
A landowner does not have to accept this offer. If you receive one of these offers, the first call you should make is to an eminent domain attorney to evaluate it to see how fair it is.
Once a landowner receives an offer, they should contact a qualified eminent domain attorney to review and assess it. An experienced eminent domain attorney will be able to quickly and accurately identify the deficiencies of a defective offer or appraisal and inform the landowner on how to proceed.
How the remainder of the process goes depends largely on your attorney’s strategy and the government’s response. Sometimes, if a condemnor cooperates, an attorney can effectively negotiate a pre-condemnation settlement that quickly resolves the matter. Other times, however, a government will choose not to work with the landowner and his/her attorney, and the case proceeds through the legal process known as condemnation. During condemnation, a government sues the landowner for the right to acquire the property sought for the project, and the landowner can argue the government doesn’t have the right to acquire the property and/or that the landowner is entitled to more than what was offered pre-suit.
When your case resolves depends on a litany of factors that can individually extend or shorten the process. For example, cases that can be resolved pre-suit usually take 3-6 months to conclude; whereas, a case that reaches condemnation will generally require 12-18 months to resolve. Though this can be a long process, your attorney will handle all of the deliberation, negotiation, and preparation during this time and ensure the best possible results of your eminent domain case.
Now that you know more about the eminent domain compensation process, it’s time for you to get the compensation you deserve. Contact our attorneys in your area today to get assistance in fighting for your rights.
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Before going alone against the State let us give you our opinion. It is our pledge that we will provide a free case review for any individual or business facing eminent domain or condemnation. Contact us now at 888-318-3761