Is the government attempting to acquire your property? The eminent domain process is an unwanted government intrusion into your life that will force you to make decisions about your property and your rights.
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 Indiana eminent domain process, your rights as a property owner and hiring an Indiana eminent domain attorney.
Biersdorf & Associates is a nationwide eminent domain law firm that only represents property owners, never the government or condemning authority. Our Indiana office is located in Carmel where we have five of-counsel eminent domain lawyers working on cases throughout the state.
Property owners in Indiana have few options when it comes to hiring an eminent domain lawyer. Why? Because eminent domain is a highly specialized area of the law and very attorneys can claim expertise. Our attorneys have worked with property owners on many of InDOT’s recent projects, such as I-69, US-31, Vernon Bypass, Ohio River Bridges, and redevelopment projects such as the Indy Speedway Project and University expansion projects as well. Our attorneys 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.
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 Indiana, 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 Indiana 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 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 Indiana a B when it comes to property owners’ protection against eminent domain? Continue reading to learn more.
Learn more about Indiana Property Rights
If your instincts tell you that the offer from the government is low, then it probably is. However, determining just compensation often requires an attorney to identify damages and help guide you through the Indiana eminent domain process. Additionally, other experts are needed such as an appraiser and maybe 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. Also, Indiana has passed legislation that requires the condemning authority to pay some of a property owner’s attorney’s fees if certain criteria are met.
Attorney’s fees may be recoverable in Indiana if the amount of damages awarded to the owner is greater than the amount specified in the last offer of settlement, which must be no later than 45 days prior to the trial. (IC 32-24-1-12) Additionally, fees may be recoverable up to $25,000, or the value of the property, whichever is less. (IC 32-24-1-14).
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. Contact us for a free case evaluation.