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Why Property Owners Should Retain an Eminent Domain Lawyer When Faced with a Government Taking

— April 21, 2021

The government has experienced lawyers on their side, and so should you.

The power of eminent domain grants local, state, and federal government agencies the right to take private property and make it available for public use, such as for the construction of roads, railroads, schools, power lines, etc.

While condemnations usually further projects for the public benefit, they often come at the expense of private property owners being forced to give up their property without their consent and without the ability to control the final purchase price. 

Reasons to Retain an Eminent Domain Attorney

Are your property rights being threatened by an act of eminent domain or any governmental action that amounts to a taking?

A qualified eminent domain lawyer can help.

Here are four reasons why you should consider an eminent domain lawyer when faced with a government taking:

Know and understand your rights as land owner

Many landowners assume that they are powerless when a government agency comes calling, relegated to simply arguing over what the compensation should be. This is a huge misconception.

The government cannot simply take properties under the eminent domain authority. It must still meet certain basic criteria and legal requirements, including proving that the taking is for the public benefit. 

An experienced eminent domain attorney can properly advise you on whether or not the condemning authority has sufficient legal grounds and necessity for the taking. More importantly, they can help you better understand and protect your constitutional rights and interests as the property owner.

Leverage your position in the negotiation 

While unfortunate, it is often true that government bodies and condemning authorities take property owners with qualified legal representation more seriously than those who seek to represent themselves.

Having an eminent domain lawyer on your side throughout the condemnation process will give you leverage during negotiations or enhance your ability to obtain a favorable outcome, should the case be litigated. 

Landowners who have experienced condemnation lawyers willing to fight for their position are at a distinct advantage over those who do not.

Get just compensation for the property

Under the U.S. Constitution, property owners are entitled to receive just compensation, should their property be taken through the power of eminent domain. Unfortunately, many condemning authorities are motivated to pay as little as possible for the property they need. Property owners who have experienced eminent domain counsel or more likely to see their compensation maximized. 

There are plenty of unique factors in condemnation that can affect the value of the property and influence how just compensation is calculated. Eminent domain attorneys routinely work with appraisers and other experts to make sure that all influencers of value are considered, including in situations where remaining property may be significantly damaged by the taking. 

Help with the complex condemnation process

Eminent domain is a highly specialized field involving laws and procedures that may differ from state-to-state. The condemnation process can be very complex, confusing, time-intensive, and intimidating – especially when you’re dealing with a governmental entity on your own.

If you’re faced with a government taking or a condemnation proceeding, the best course of action is to hire a legal professional to help you navigate the process. Condemnation attorneys understand the complexities and intricacies of eminent domain law. They can defend you in court, assert your rights, safeguard your interests, and help you take the necessary steps that will steer you toward the best outcome.

Do I really need an eminent domain lawyer?

Owners' Counsel of America logo courtesy of OCA.
Owners’ Counsel of America logo courtesy of OCA.

While there is no law that says you can’t represent yourself in an eminent domain case, you will have a far better chance of a successful outcome with an eminent domain attorney on your side. Going against government attorneys and other professionals on your own, who are motivated to obtain your most valuable asset at the lowest price, is far too risky.

The government has experienced lawyers on their side, and so should you.

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