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If an agent of the government or a utility company has recently approached you about the sale of your property, you probably have a lot of questions. First among these may be, “can the government really force me to sell my land?”
Unfortunately, in many cases, the answer to this question is “yes.” Eminent domain gives the government the ability to take private property so long as it is for a public purpose and it provides the landowner with just compensation for the property taken.
Landowners have rights, however, and you should protect these rights. The single most effective thing you can to protect your rights as a landowner is to retain an eminent domain lawyer as soon as you become aware that the government may subject your property to an eminent domain action.
Here are some of the ways a lawyer can help bring your case to the best resolution possible:
In some cases, an attempted exercise of eminent domain does not meet the public use requirement or some procedural defect renders it invalid. When this is the case, an attorney can challenge the exercise of eminent domain itself, potentially preventing a forced sale. Keep in mind, however, that most attempted exercises of eminent domain are valid.
In most eminent domain actions, the condemning authority (the party using eminent domain to take the property) and the landowner reach an out-of-court settlement. This settlement amount should approximate the amount a landowner would get if the case went to court and litigated the issue. When you retain an attorney, your lawyer will represent you in settlement negotiations and ensure that you get just compensation for your land. If the other party refuses to make a reasonable offer for your property and you are unable to settle, your lawyer may represent you in court and present evidence establishing the actual value of your property.
You may feel concerned that if you hire an attorney to represent you, you could end up with less than you would have had you accepted the initial offer. When you retain the attorneys of Sever Storey, this outcome becomes mathematically impossible. Per a contingency fee arrangement, we collect a percentage on the amount we obtain for you above your initial offer. In this way, you can never get less than you would have without the assistance of an attorney.
If someone has sent you a notice indicating the intention to acquire your property, retain legal counsel as soon as you can. To schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced eminent domain lawyer, call Sever Storey today at (888) 318-3761 or send us an email us through our online contact form.
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