Will You Have to Go to Court in Your Eminent Domain CaseWhether you need to go to court in your eminent domain case really boils down to whether you reach a satisfactory agreement for the amount of compensation you receive with the governmental entity that takes your land. In many cases, especially simple ones, the landowner and the condemning authority reach an agreement for the amount of compensation the landowner will receive for the taking and completely avoid the court system. More complex government takings, such as those involving the taking of a business or a taking that involves severance damages, will often require the assistance of a court to resolve. To evaluate whether your eminent domain case must go to court, we will first take a look at the general steps in an eminent domain case and then discuss common reasons why these cases go to court.

Steps in an Eminent Domain Case

Although every case is different, your eminent domain case could take three standard paths:

  • If you (the property owner) agree to go through with the sale and accept the price the government offers you, then the government issues payment and you give up your deed. This is the simplest eminent domain proceeding.
  • If you do not agree with the sale or the price the government offers you, the proceedings become more complex. In these situations, you and the government entity will negotiate a fair price for your land. At this point, attorneys, appraisers, mediators, and arbitrators can potentially get involved.
  • If the outcome of the negotiations does not satisfy you, or if you refuse the sale entirely, then the government entity will likely begin court proceedings. At this stage, the government must prove that it tried to negotiate the sale and that the takeover involves public use. If the government wins, an appraiser will establish fair market value, then the government will pay and evict you. Both sides may appeal the court’s decision.

Must You Go to Court?

As outlined above, you only need to go to court if you cannot reach an agreement with the government entity taking your land. Although every case is different, eminent domain cases that make it into court often involve two main issues:

  • Public use determinations: For the government to constitutionally take a private landowner’s property, it must demonstrate that the taking is for a public use. If you dispute that the government taking constitutes a public use, then this makes it much more likely that your case will end up in court.
  • Just compensation determinations: The government must also pay private landowners just compensation when it wants to take their property. If you cannot reach an agreement with the governmental entity taking your property at the negotiation stage of the proceedings, then your case will also likely end up in court.

If you do not dispute that the government is taking your property for a public use or if you are able to negotiate what you think is a fair price for your land, then your case likely will not have to go to court.

Contact an Eminent Domain Attorney

If you face condemnation proceedings, you do not have to fight the government alone. A skilled eminent domain attorney will vigorously assert your interests and get you the fair compensation you deserve. Please contact the condemnation attorneys at Sever Storey to discuss your case by calling (888) 318-3761.