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 you consult with a South Carolina eminent domain attorney.
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 South Carolina eminent domain process, your rights as a property owner and hiring a South Carolina eminent domain attorney.
Biersdorf & Associates is a nationwide eminent domain law firm with experience handling cases nationwide. Our South Carolina office and local attorney is located in Charleston, but we can take cases anywhere in the state. We help property owners who are impacted by highway and transit projects, pipeline projects, natural gas storage facility projects, redevelopment projects, acquisitions for municipal buildings, inverse condemnation, regulatory takings and much more. We only represent property owners, never the condemning authority or government.
Did you know that most South Carolina eminent domain attorneys work on a contingent fee basis? With this fee structure, the attorney assumes the risk of earning a fee. Also the government may be required to pay your attorney’s fees and costs in eminent domain cases when certain criteria are met.
In the state of South 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 South 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 South 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 South Carolina a B+ when it comes to property owners’ protection against eminent domain? Continue reading to learn more.
Learn more about South Carolina 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, South Carolina 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.
In South Carolina, if you prevail in a condemnation suit, meaning the compensation awarded in court is closer to the property owner’s evaluation than the condemning authority’s valuation, then the court may award reasonable attorney’s fees and expenses (S.C. Code Ann. § 28-2-510).
Additionally, if you initiate a condemnation action and prevail in trial or with a settlement, attorney’s fees and other reasonable fees may be awarded (S.C. Code Ann. § 28-11-30(3)). Lastly, your fees may be recoverable if it is determined that the property being sought cannot be acquired by eminent domain, or if the condemning authority abandons the suit (S.C. Code Ann. § 28-2-510).
Very few attorneys can claim expertise in the area of eminent domain law. Make sure you obtain a consultation from an eminent domain lawyer 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. Contact us for a free case evaluation.