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What is Eminent Domain?

A legal action based upon the Constitution that is aimed at “taking” your property, is called eminent domain or condemnation.  The eminent domain action can come from either public or private entities. In order to initiate an eminent domain action against a property owner the condemning authority must first demonstrate that your land is needed for the public good; then they must pay for it.  There are a multitude of public purposes that can be used to take your property such as highways, airports, hospitals, railways, or even a parking lot. 

The second requirement, paying you for your land is the hard part.  Typically, representatives of the private company or government will pay you or your tenants a visit and will let you know of their interest in your property and ask for access to your land to conduct an appraisal. At some point after they conduct their appraisal, you will receive an offer that is said "to compensate you" for your land. However, the law requires that you are to be paid an amount that represents the value at “highest and best use” for your property. However, those seeking to take your land will almost always have your land appraised in a manner that does not provide you with an amount that is representative of the "highest and best use." Let’s use the classic example: you own farm land next to a major interstate that the state wants to take for a highway exit or entrance ramp.  The taking party’s appraiser will  likely appraise the land as inexpensive farm land instead of appraising in light of the lands "highest and best use" which may be a truck stop, hotel, apartments, or any multitude land enhanced for commercial use because it is next to a major highway. Once you are informed that your property is needed and will likely be taken, don’t be intimidated.  Condemning authorities may try to intimidate you by telling you that the project is urgent, that you are getting a one-time offer and will lose everything if you don’t accept the offer, or that you will be sued if you don’t accept. 

The eminent domain law gives you important Constitutional protections and rights. Do not sign anything - you are not required to sign an agreement even though you may be feeling pressure to do so. Their deadlines are not your deadlines. You have a right to review the agreement and certainly with your lawyer. The earlier you  contact us, the better we can improve your position. As soon as you find out your land is needed, call us. We can help.

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If you or someone you know has been offered compensation for your property that you believe is not Just, please call our number above to speak with a qualified eminent domain attorney.  Or fill out the form below to be contacted via Email.