How Much Will I Get Paid In My Eminent Domain Case?

Federal and State Governments can lawfully take your private property (or a piece of it) for public use under the power of eminent domain. Whether it’s your home, business, or even undeveloped land, they can take it.

You might be wondering whether you’ll get paid for your eminent domain case. If the government or any other condemning party (such as a utility company) takes your property using the power of eminent domain, they are mandated by the law to pay you just compensation.

In this post, we’ll offer you a detailed insight into how much you can get paid in your eminent domain case to ensure you get fair compensation for your taken property.

But first, a quick definition of what eminent domain is.

What Is Eminent Domain?

Eminent domain is the law that gives the government the power to take your property for public use, such as road construction or the building of hospitals. While stopping the NCDOT from acquiring your land is rarely, if ever, successful, the constitution mandates that you are provided just compensation.

Definition of a Just Compensation

The Fifth Amendment of the U.S Constitution mandates that the government shall not take private property for public use without providing just compensation. With that in mind, what is considered to be just compensation?

A just compensation refers to the fair market value of your property. In a total taking, just compensation is simply the entire value of your property. On the other hand, just compensation for a partial taking is viewed in terms of the difference in your property’s value before the taking less its value after the taking—the difference is the total amount of just compensation. Nonetheless, the issue of valuation is rarely a simple one in eminent domain cases and is often disputed.

Valuation of Property in Eminent Domain Cases

Under North Carolina law, property owners must prove with evidence that they are entitled to receive compensation and the amount of such payment. Typically, the valuation in North Carolina eminent domain cases turns on the property’s fair market value at the time of taking. 

Even so, the issue of fair market value is usually hotly debated between the condemning party (usually the government) and the property owner. It is not unheard of for both parties to hire expert witnesses to testify about the issue of fair market value. Among the factors taken into consideration when determining fair market value include:

  • Zoning
  • Accessibility
  • Size of property
  • Level of development
  • Unique characteristics
  • Current use or potential use

There are generally three property valuation methods used by experts – the income approach, the market approach, and the cost approach.  Each are specific methodologies and entail working with an expert to determine which should be used, or if multiple methodologies should be used.

What Happens if Only a Part of the Property Is Taken?

There are instances when the proposed project required that only a portion of your land be condemned. In such partial takings, residue damages arise. These damages can be caused by various issues, including a change in shape or size, reduced setback (distance from the roadway), or a change in the highest and best use of the property. Both improvements and land can suffer residue damages. 

Are Landowners Entitled to Reimbursement of Taxes Paid on a Condemned Property?

A landowner whose property is taken entirely by the government through the power of eminent domain is entitled to receive reimbursement from the condemnor. This payment is generally in proportion to the property taxes paid that were allocatable to a period that followed the condemnor being given the title or the effective date they assumed possession of the property, whichever comes earlier.

Generally speaking, a property owner has two years after the date of the receipt of the funds to reinvest or purchase a comparable property.

Reach Out to Green Mistretta Law About Just Compensation

The amount of compensation received in eminent domain cases depends on various factors, including the size and location of the property taken. However, you must ensure that you not only get fair compensation but you get the full amount of the compensation. 

Green Mistretta Law can help you accomplish this. With our team in your corner, you’ll be able to get the just compensation that you deserve for your property, and in some instances, prevent your land from being taken. While it may be tempting to navigate eminent domain cases on your own, remember that there is a likelihood that the government has several people fighting for them, so get an experienced team on your side.