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Eminent Domain Basics

Can You Fight City Hall?

The concept of private property is one that is essential to the very nature and character of our freedom. Yet the government has the power to take privately owned land and convert it to public use.

Through eminent domain – also known as condemnation – local, state and federal government agencies can take your property – even if you don’t want to sell – provided they pay “just compensation.” That is the root of eminent domain law.

When Your Land is Taken

It may start quietly. You receive a letter in the mail informing you that the state or city needs your land for a “public use” such as a highway, public building or housing development project. There may even be an offer of a financial settlement. To the uninitiated, it appears that you have no choice, no say in the matter.

While the state may have the power to take your property, it does not have the power to make you accept an unfair price for your land. The Constitutions of United States and most states guarantee just compensation when private property is taken or damaged by government action. You may be entitled to recover compensation for:

  • Value of the land;
  • Loss in value to the remaining portion of your land if only part is taken;
  • Value of buildings, equipment and improvements installed on the land;
  • Value of any lease interests;
  • Relocation benefits;
  • Interest on any delayed payments;

But “fighting city hall” can be difficult. It is rare that an eminent domain case is settled without a jury trial. That’s why the services of an experienced eminent domain law firm are essential.

We’re On Your Side, We’re By Your Side

At this point, it is advisable to seek legal counsel to help you manage the eminent domain process, and to ensure that you receive just compensation.

For more than eighty years, The McLaughlin Brothers, P.C. has been a champion for property owners fighting for their rights that are guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. We put our extensive knowledge and experience to work for businesses, homeowners, and individuals who have had their property taken through eminent domain. Our goal is to obtain a fair appraisal and fair compensation for their land.

As either the lead attorney or in consultation with your attorney, The McLaughlin Brothers, P.C. will handle all phases of your case. From the time of initial contact by the condemning agency, through settlement or trial, we counsel you on the best way to respond to offers made and tactics used by the government in eminent domain actions.

Because eminent domain law is our specialty, we have established a strong network of consultants to help us build a powerful case on your behalf. This includes appraisers, engineers, accountants – a “first team” of experts working to maximize your recovery.

In recognition of the financial hardships often caused by eminent domain takings, our firm charges for its services on a contingency fee basis. This arrangement relieves you of any responsibility for legal fees while the case is pending. Our fees are paid from the proceeds of a settlement or jury verdict.

If your property is targeted for condemnation and taking, do not hesitate. Before the surveyors arrive, before the state makes a financial offer, before you even meet with representatives of the government, enlist the help of the experienced eminent domain attorneys at The McLaughlin Brothers, P.C.