Few issues evoke such strong opposition as the taking of private land through eminent domain for a public use. 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. If the government is taking your land, make sure that you become informed so that you know what you can and cannot do.
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 through to learn about the North Carolina eminent domain process, your rights as a property owner and hiring a North Carolina 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.
In the state of North Carolina, 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 North Carolina 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 North Carolina eminent domain process.
Learn more about the North Carolina 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 C- when it comes to property owners’ protection against eminent domain? Continue reading to learn more.
Learn more about North Carolina Property Rights
If your instincts tell you that the offer from the government is low, then it probably is. However, determining just compensation often involves an attorney to identify damages and help guide you through the North Carolina eminent domain process. Additionally, other experts are needed such as an appraiser and sometimes an engineer or planner to provide evidence and expert testimony on your behalf.
Most eminent domain attorneys work on a contingent fee basis. With this fee structure, the attorney assumes the risk for earning a fee. Property owners are generally only responsible for paying costs, with the primary cost being the appraiser who values the property. Because of the contingent fee structure, most eminent domain attorneys will conduct a free case evaluation for property owners prior to recommending representation.
In North Carolina, attorney’s fees are only recoverable if the condemning authority abandons the proceeding, if it is determined that the condemning authority cannot acquire by eminent domain, or if the property owner is successful in an inverse condemnation proceeding (N.C.G.S.A. § 40A-8).
Attorney’s fees may also be recoverable if upon entry to inspect/survey the premises, the condemnor causes damages, and the owner brings a suit to recover such damages, and the judgment is 25% higher than the reimbursement offer by the condemnor (N.C.G.S.A. § 40A-11).
If you’re affected by eminent domain, you should obtain a consultation so that you know and understand your rights before taking any action. Remember, the government is like any buyer, they will want to purchase your property as cheaply as possible, and their appraisers may neglect to consider damages that can lead to a larger amount of just compensation.
Very few attorneys can claim expertise in the area of eminent domain law. 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.