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 to learn about the Washington eminent domain process, your rights as a property owner and hiring a Washington eminent domain attorney.
Biersdorf & Associates is a nationwide eminent domain law firm that only represents property owners, never the government or condemning authority. We are licensed to practice law in Washington and can handle cases throughout the state. We have experience helping 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.
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, the government or condemning authority is required to pay your attorneys fees in eminent domain cases if certain criteria are met.
In the state of Washington, 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 Washington 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 Washington a C- when it comes to property owners’ protection against eminent domain? Continue reading to learn more.
Learn more about Washington 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, Washington has passed legislation requiring the condemning authority to pay your attorneys fees and costs in eminent domain cases if certain criteria are met.
If you’re impacted by eminent domain in Washington, your attorney’s could be paid for by the government or condemning authority if the final judgement awarded at trial exceeds the last written offer by at least 10%. Attorneys fees might also be recoverable if the attorney representing the condemning authority awards attorney’s fees as part of the settlement in the eminent domain proceeding, or if the condemning authority requests, in writing, to take immediate possession and use of the property.
The motivation to negotiate honestly, and even avoid low ball offers to begin with, increases significantly if the condemning authority can be liable for the attorney’s fees incurred by the property owner. This statute helps level the playing field between the government and property owners, especially when small claimants can hire an attorney to help them obtain just compensation.
Very few attorneys can claim expertise in the area of eminent domain law. If you’re affected by eminent domain, you should 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.