Texas is a state that has lots of open land and natural resources. As a result, many property owners across the state receive notice from the government that it intends to claim their land, citing the rule of eminent domain.
If you are facing eminent domain proceedings, it is important to be aware of what this term means, and the various steps involved in the case. In these situations, you may want to consult an attorney who can represent you during the condemnation process.
What Is Eminent Domain?
According to the United States Constitution, the government has the right to take away land from a private property owner. This right is known as eminent domain. To protect citizens from unlawful seizures of their land, governments must follow certain rules and procedures while engaging in this process.
First, the government must provide adequate compensation for the property to the landowner. Additionally, the agency must provide adequate notice to the owner of its intent to take the land away.
For a government agency to claim eminent domain, it must have a valid public use for the land. Examples of accepted public uses include the following.
- Bridges and dams
- Freeways and roads
- Public transportation infrastructure
- Airports and airfields
- Public parks and nature reserves
- Utilities like power plants
- Libraries, municipal offices, and other public buildings
The Texas Condemnation Process
When a government agency provides you with notice of its intent to take your land, you will enter the condemnation process. In Texas, condemnation occurs in two parts: a special commissioners’ hearing, and a litigation phase.
First, you will attend a hearing overseen by three commissioners, who are appointed by the court. These commissioners will listen to evidence and arguments from you and the government. Then, the commissioners will determine how much money the government should pay for your land.
In many cases, the condemnation process will end here, and you will receive the compensation that the commissioners issue. If you are dissatisfied with the outcome, you have the right to pursue litigation. If the case does not settle before reaching trial, a jury will determine whether the agency has the right to eminent domain and how much compensation you should recover.
How an Eminent Domain Lawyer Can Help Your Case
Navigating an eminent domain case can be a challenge, especially if you are unfamiliar with the laws and requirements. If you need support through the condemnation process, you need an attorney on your side who can guide you through each phase. He or she will have the skills, knowledge, and experience necessary to represent your claim and advocate for the best possible outcome in your proceedings.
A Texas eminent domain attorney can evaluate the government’s appraisal, determine whether you are receiving fair compensation, and fight for your rights and best interests. Your lawyer could also help you seek a third-party appraisal if you believe the government is offering an insufficient offer.
As soon as you receive notice of the government’s intent to take your land, contact a Texas eminent domain lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney will carefully evaluate your case and help strategize your next steps.