Frequently Asked Questions
What is eminent domain?
Simply put, eminent domain is the power of the government to take private property and convert it into public use.
Historically, the most common uses of property taken by eminent domain are public facilities, highways, and railroads.
Currently, the most common form of eminent domain, by far, is the taking of private property for the construction of large public projects, namely state highways.
What is a “land condemnation action”?
A “land condemnation action” is the initial step in the government exercising the right to take private property for public use. This action begins when a complaint or a petition is filed in the county where the property is located.
Depending on the situation, a settlement can sometimes be reached between the property owner and the government before the commencement of the land condemnation action. If no settlement is reached, property owners have the right to represent themselves in the action, or have an attorney represent them.
Do I get compensated for the government taking my land by eminent domain?
The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits the government to take one’s property “without just compensation”, so anyone whose property is seized does receive some compensation.
In North Carolina, the measure of compensation for the taking of your entire property is the fair market value of the property on the date of the taking. In general, the land is to be valued on the date that the land condemnation petition or complaint is filed.
Do I need an attorney for ensuring that I receive the compensation I deserve?
As mentioned above, any property owner can represent themselves in negotiations and with the eminent domain proceeding.
However, the problem is that the property owners have to engage in direct negotiations with the government, which has proven to be extremely difficult and frequently leads to inadequate compensation.
An attorney can try to help you get the compensation you deserve by zealously advocating for you to get the fair market value for your property, certain damages, and relocation expenses.