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 our tabs and pages to learn about the Virginia eminent domain process, your rights as a property owner and hiring a Virginia eminent domain attorney.
Biersdorf & Associates is a nationwide eminent domain law firm with experience handling cases in Georgia and elsewhere around the country. Our Virginia office is located in Chesterfield and we have a local eminent domain lawyer who handles cases throughout the state. Our firm only represent property owners, never the condemning authority or government.
Eminent domain is a specialized area of real estate law and very few attorneys can claim expertise. Our lawyers have the experience necessary to identify damages that lead to a higher amount of compensation, and they can effectively interface with the condemning authority and work the legal system to help you obtain just compensation. Also, we’re trial lawyers, so we won’t hesitate to take your case to trial if negotiations cannot be reached. Learn more about the eminent domain process in Virginia, your rights as a property owner and hiring a lawyer.
Virginia Eminent Domain Process
In the state of Virginia, 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 Virginia 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 Virginia eminent domain process.
Virginia Property Rights
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 Virginia an A when it comes to property owners’ protection against eminent domain?
Continue reading to learn more.
Hiring an Eminent Domain Attorney in Virginia
As you are likely aware, taking matters into your own hands when it comes to eminent domain is highly discouraged. You could ruin a good claim by attempting to negotiate with the condemning authority without knowing the full extent of your damages. Or, you could settle for much less than what you are entitled to receive. Don’t be surprised if you’re unable to assess the damages in your case; no one expects you to be an expert on land valuation in eminent domain cases. In fact, the government is counting on this.
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.
Your attorney fees may be recoverable if the condemning authority moves to dismiss the proceeding. If reasonable fees are awarded, the award must be paid within 30 days of the entry of judgment (Va. Stat. §§ 25.1-249).
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 properly 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.