When it comes to eminent domain, the government is playing in their arena; they do this every day. They know what the rules are, they know how the rules affect them and they know how the rules affect property owners. Your initial question might be, can I stop the process? In most cases, you won’t be able to prevent the government from acquiring your land, but you are entitled to just compensation under eminent domain law. Learn more about eminent domain generally and what you’re entitled to receive, or continue reading to learn about the Delaware eminent domain process, your rights as a property owner and hiring a Delaware eminent domain attorney.
Did you know that most eminent domain attorneys work on a contingent fee basis? With this fee structure, the attorney assumes the risk of earning a fee. Also, Delaware has passed legislation that requires the government to pay property owner’s attorney’s fees when the statutory threshold is met.
In the state of Delaware, the eminent domain process can only be stopped if the proposed taking does not meet the requirements for public purpose or public necessity. If you have determined that the proposed taking does meet these requirements, then you should learn more about the Delaware eminent domain process.
Remember, even if the government has the right to condemn your property, they cannot dictate the price they are willing to pay; compensation is determined by the highest and best use laws for your property. The following page contains detailed legal information and a flow chart on the Delaware eminent domain process.
Learn more about the Delaware Eminent Domain Process
The eminent domain abuse dialogue often centers on policy issues involving the right to take property for economic development and blight. Since the landmark case of Kelo v. City of New London in 2005, many states have taken measures to help curb eminent domain abuse. Some states were very successful at passing meaningful reform, and other states failed to pass any legislation at all. Most states fall in the middle by passing legislation that looks good on paper but does little to level the playing field between property owners and the government.
The Castle Coalition, a nationwide grassroots property activism project by the Institute for Justice, released a comprehensive report in 2006 that graded each state based on eminent domain legislative changes which expand and protect property rights.
Did you know that the Castle Coalition gave North Carolina a B+ when it comes to property owners’ protection against eminent domain?
Learn more about Delaware Eminent Domain Property Rights
The most blatant form of eminent domain abuse occurs when the government or condemning authority makes a ‘low ball’ offer. This scenario invariably requires the property owner to hire an attorney to obtain just compensation. Fortunately, the vast majority of eminent domain attorneys work on a contingent fee basis, meaning they charge a percentage of the additional money they obtain for the property owner. Also, Delaware has passed legislation requiring the condemning authority to pay the property owner’s attorneys fees and costs in eminent domain cases if certain criteria are met.
Delaware property owners who are impacted by eminent domain can apply for an order for the condemning authority to pay their attorney’s fees and costs if the award of just compensation at trial is closer to the highest valuation evidence provided at trial on the property owner’s behalf than the condemning authority’s offer of compensation (29 De.C. § 6111).
Attorney’s fees may also be recoverable in Delaware if it is determined that the property cannot be acquired by condemnation, or if the proceeding is abandoned by the condemning authority. The court may then award any reasonable attorney, appraisal and engineering fees incurred. (29 Del.C. § 9503) Attorney’s fees may also be recoverable if the property owner is successful in an inverse condemnation suit. (29 Del.C. § 9504)
Very few attorneys can claim expertise in the area of eminent domain law. To determine if you have a case, make sure you consult with an eminent domain trial attorney who can effectively identify damages and select the necessary experts. Your attorney should also be able to interface with the condemning authority and be willing to take your case to trial if negotiations can not be reached. Contact us for a free case evaluation.