Hire a Texas Eminent Domain Lawyer to Maximize Your Property Settlement
Most of Texas land is still privately owned.
That puts the government in a tough spot. They need more land to keep building new infrastructure to support a booming population.
So they often use eminent domain laws to seize property for public use.
However, public use is no excuse for the abuse of property owners’ rights.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happens with a lot of property owners. They are intimidated, manipulated, and poorly compensated to give up their lands.
Our passionate team of Eminent Domain Lawyers has helped defend the rights of Texas landowners and get them the high compensation they deserve.
Understanding Condemnation Cases
Eminent domain is the legal right of the government to acquire private property for public use. The legal process through which this land is acquired is known as condemnation.
They have to prove the land is only being used for projects that add real public value, such as:
- Public buildings like courts, government offices, and fire stations
- Airports, bus and railway transport network
- Water, drainage, or gas pipelines
- Military installations
- Power stations
Just because the process is called condemnation, it doesn’t mean your case is condemned. This power of eminent domain is not absolute.
So, if you’ve received a condemnation notice from the government. It’s NOT an eviction notice.
There are clear Texas state laws, federal laws, and the Fifth Amendment to defend your property rights.
4 Key Private Property Owners’ Rights that You’re Entitled to:
- Public purpose– The Fifth Amendment only allows the condemnation of private properties for public use.
- Due process – The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments mandate governments and citizens to go through a due process of law for settling the case. Landowners must provide proper legal documentation on time giving property owners a chance to respond properly.
- Just compensation – According to the Fifth Amendment, the condemning party must also provide just compensation to the property owner. Owners are entitled to be compensated for their whole property value and any damages they face because of this process.
- Dispute – You have the right to legally contest the condemnation process. Your eminent domain lawyer will be able to figure out if your property rights are being violated. They’ll navigate all the complex legal processes and deadlines to negotiate the best possible settlement for you.
Maximizing Compensation: The Firm’s Process
We care about you getting the best value for your property AND experiencing the smoothest transition once you shift.
There are a ton of factors to evaluate to ensure you walk away with a compensation that you’re happy with years after the deal.
Ranked among the top 100 Houston Super Lawyers, our experienced attorneys here at Wyly & Cook have a track record of winning civil cases across Texas.
Now you know you’re being represented by lawyers trusted by the community and respected by their peers. We’re always willing to go the extra mile to get you the best possible settlement for your land.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a condemnation case?
Condemnation is the legal process through which a government can acquire a private property for public use.
What rights do property owners have in government takings?
Here are 5 essential rights property owners are entitled to in condemnation cases:
- Guarantee that land is solely being acquired for public purpose
- Due process for settling the case
- Just compensation
- Reimbursing expenses
- Legally contesting the condemnation process
How can property owners contest offers and seek full compensation?
Government agencies will often try to rush you into signing a lowball offer. They are known to get property appraisals that reflect a decreased market value.
By hiring an experienced eminent domain lawyer, you can get your own professional appraisal to counter their offer.
What types of properties are susceptible to takings?
The follow types properties susceptible to takings under eminent domain laws:
- Residential properties
- Agricultural land
- Commercial properties
- Industrial properties
- Special-use properties
What challenges do special-use properties face in condemnation cases?
Special-use properties like churches, schools, and institutions are limited in their functionality. Their layout and design fulfill a unique purpose. These limitations may lead to a diminished property value.
Recognizing the function of special-use properties is important to properly compensate and relocate owners.
How does the firm achieve results?
At Wyly & Cook, we care more about the results we produce than the number of cases we take up. We treat every case like it’s going to trial so that you get the fastest high-value property settlement. We’re willing to put our money where our mouth is when it comes to the results we produce.
Firstly, you don’t have to pay us a dime until we win your case. You only have to pay us a fixed percentage once your case is settled. Secondly, we will fight to get you a higher offer than the initial offer presented to you by government agents.
What is the reputation of the firm in the field?
Our experienced team of eminent domain lawyers are ranked among the top 100 Houston Super Lawyers in the field of civil litigation.
What do clients say about their experience with the firm?
A huge part of our clients come to us through referrals. We’ve built a chain of trust that keeps growing by helping our community members get fairly compensated.
We do the talking in court, but we believe in letting our clients talk about the results we deliver.
Check out our client testimonials on our website to see how we’ve successfully settled several cases like yours.
What is the difference between eminent domain and condemnation?
Eminent domain is the right of any entity legally authorized by the government to take over private property for public use. They can do this even if the landowner doesn’t give consent. Condemnation is the legal process through which these entities can take control of the property.
Can the government seize my land without compensating me?
No. The government is legally obliged to offer you just compensation to landowners for taking control of their property.
How is just compensation determined in Texas?
Just compensation = fair market value of your property + any damages suffered due to the condemnation or construction process. Both parties have the right to use their own network of certified appraisers and other experts to evaluate the property.
The property valuation depends on a variety of factors such as:
- Property size
- Zoning and geographic area
- Property characteristics
- Types of construction on the property
· Current and long-term utility
What are the circumstances under which eminent domain can be used?
Eminent domain can only be used when there are justifiable reasons to take over private property for public use. It should be a matter of building essential infrastructure that benefits the public.
Here are a few examples of public projects where eminent domain can be exercised:
- Extending highways
- Construction of public buildings
- Pipeline construction and maintenance
What steps should I take if I believe the government is offering me inadequate compensation?
The most important step to take once you get an offer from the government is to hire a reputed eminent domain lawyer. Your lawyer will review the proposal to accurately assess your property damages. They will get a professional appraisal done to ensure you’re not getting lowballed.
How can an eminent domain lawyer help protect my property rights?
Here’s how an eminent domain lawyer can assist you in your case:
- Helping you navigate through complex legal hearings, procedures, and deadlines
- Creating an optimal legal strategy to fast-track your settlement
- Bringing in appraisers and experts to determine your property’s fair market value and estimating damages
- Negotiating a property repair or relocation plan
· If necessary, representing you in court to fight for a fair verdict
Are there any cases where the government can abuse its eminent domain power?
Yes. There are cases where the government was found to have negligently exercised its eminent domain power.
Here are some of the most common cases we encounter:
- Taking the property for the benefit of private entities
- Taking more property than what was negotiated in the easement agreement
- Inadequate compensation
- Speculative or unjustified takings
- Lack of transparency
· Denying the landowner due process to assert their legal rights
What are the potential outcomes of challenging eminent domain actions in Texas?
- You’re able to mutually negotiate a fair settlement
- You’re able to compel the condemning authority to modify their project to reduce the negative impact on your property
- You get an increased settlement after taking your case to trial
- You’re able to get the eminent domain action dismissed and retain your property
- Your appeal may be rejected, forcing you to accept the offer and cede property rights according to the easement agreement
- Getting your legal costs reimbursed for the case
What rights do landowners have under the State of Texas Landowner's Bill of Rights?
- Your property can only be taken for public use
- You must receive just compensation for your property
- The property can only be condemned by a legally authorized entity
- You must be notified by the legally authorized entity about their plan to condemn your land
- You must be presented with a written appraisal from a certified property appraiser
- You can file a written complaint with the Texas Real Estate Commission if you believe the condemning authority has indulged in misconduct during this process
- You can hire your own certified appraiser to get a fair property valuation
- You can hire an eminent domain lawyer to protect your legal rights
- You’re entitled to a hearing before a court-appointed panel with three special commissioners to negotiate a better settlement
- You can take your case to trial if you’re unsatisfied with this whole process to get a final verdict from a judge or jury
Is there a time limit for taking legal action against condemnation proceedings?
Once the condemning authority initiates eminent domain proceedings for taking your property, a panel of special commissioners is appointed to hear your case. They will evaluate the merits of both sides and determine your compensation.
If you disagree with their ruling, you generally have 20 days from the date of the ruling to file an objection in the same court. Although there’s no specific Texas statute of limitations for filing an eminent domain lawsuit, you need to act early to build a strong case.