Eminent Domain Lawyers And Condemnation

Eminent Domain (or condemnation) is a complex legal area that allows the government to seize your land for public uses, such as building or expanding a road or highway, without your consent. Fighting back against condemnation often requires the help of eminent domain lawyers that are ready, willing, and able to handle your Texas condemnation case.

Both the United States and Texas Constitutions require that the Government pay you a fair value for land they seize. However, the word “fair” is highly subjective — and is first determined by the government. The government has a team of appraisers, engineers, and attorneys that have been planning to seize your land for years.

With the lawyers at Potts Law Firm, you have the opportunity to defend your rights as a landowner and regain your peace of mind. Our attorneys have the experience and knowledge needed to help ensure that you receive fair compensation for your land and property. The sooner you talk to one of our experienced attorneys, the sooner we can help you in your condemnation fight.

Eminent Domain Abuses

Eminent domain abuse can begin harmlessly enough. Due to the aforementioned land scarcity, states may find themselves unenviable to juggle a public project that will cause the least private injury to property owners and the greatest public good.

How they appraise the property’s value is where things get tricky. How does one plan for the development’s economic growth and the impact that this will have on one’s property taxes and property security? This is where the experience of an eminent domain attorney comes to the fore.

As a property owner, you might feel content in an area your local council determines to be a “blighted” or run-down area. ‘Blight’ is a buzzword used to describe buildings deemed unsafe or unattractive in light of an urban generation project that you find yourself on the wrong side of. As politicians get kickbacks from private developers, eminent domain abuse occurs.

From the expansion of a private mall in Texas that saw 127 homeowners forced off their land to displaced farmers in Iowa to build the Dakota Access pipeline, examples of states riding roughshod over the interests of homeowners abound. If you’re aware of state plans to develop real estate that could negatively impact your livelihood, then an eminent domain attorney with the pedigree of Potts Law Firm will put your mind at ease.

Inverse Condemnation & Texas Condemnation

If a condemning authority such as a government entity acquires private property without an owner’s consent, this needs to be declared under eminent domain law. This allows the property owner to pursue just compensation by filing an inverse condemnation claim.

Inverse condemnation is thus a legal action brought against the government by a landowner to obtain just compensation for a taking of property affected, without a formal exercise of eminent domain.

Property rights are complicated. Take access rights on a servitude road as an example of a situation where a condemning authority may overlook your claims in an attempt to fast-track a housing development. Here, you’ll understand why the recourse to file an inverse condemnation claim is an important one.

Changing zoning ordinances that effectively restrict how a property owner can use their property is another common occurrence where one has cause to pursue an inverse condemnation claim.

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Understanding Texas Eminent Domain

The intricacies of eminent domain and what is deemed as “fair public use” are as old as the U.S. Constitution itself. There was a time back then when land was more freely available and so compensation was somewhat of a moot point. The “public use” requirement under the Takings Clause in the Fifth Amendment, initially had more to do with the army being able to secure provisions from local ranchers and being duly compensated.

Times have changed, and now eminent domain abuse has seen honest homeowners dispossessed of their properties for ill-conceived urban developments and job creation projects that never materialize.

So while the U.S. Constitution allows for a broad interpretation of “fair public use,” the U.S. Supreme Court defers to the rights of individual states to define it themselves. This is where the grey areas of eminent domain cases arise.

Private people or corporations can be authorized to exercise the determination of eminent domain if legislatively delegated by the state. Likewise, for municipalities and government subdivisions. So if you find yourself the victim of an eminent domain dispute, knowing exactly who you are up against can prove tricky. Having the right eminent domain attorney is where we come in.

Frequently asked questions

  • Q:What are common issues property owners face with condemning authority appraisers?


    The condemning authority will often hire an independent appraiser to evaluate your property. These appraisers often have an interest in obtaining a uniform value for all of the properties, will use older sales to justify their valuations, and can be locked into sales that are not truly comparable to your property.

  • Q:Are agreements made with the land services company binding?

    A:Agreements made with the land services companies are not binding unless they are in writing and approved by the ultimate condemning authority.

  • Q:Is the landman an agent of the condemning authority?


    The landman is usually an independent contractor and has little to no authority to bind the condemner.

  • Q:Are trees compensable in Texas?


    Trees may be compensable dependent on many factors. Trees may require an arborist to determine their value.

  • Q:Should I grant survey permission?


    Typically, we advise our clients to allow for survey permission to obtain accurate metes and bounds description of the property and of the taking. Clients should be wary of survey companies asking for environmental and engineering studies on the property.

  • Q:What should I do to prepare for a condemnation lawsuit?


    You need to know your rights and immediately take action to protect those rights.

  • Q:What is public use?


    Public use is the legal requirement necessary for the condemner to take or condemn your property.

  • Q:What protections do I have against the condemning authority?


    Your protections are outlined in the Landowner’s Bill of Rights, which will be provided to you by the condemning authority.

  • Q:What can I anticipate during the eminent domain or condemnation process?


    You can anticipate the following:

    • A request for survey letters
    • Agents for the condemning authority asking permission to talk to you
    • Appraisals from the condemning authority
    • An initial offer letter (usually requiring you to respond within 30 days)

  • Q:What can hiring legal counsel do for me?


    The Potts Law Firm legal counsel will fight to maximize your compensation and protect your rights.

  • Q:Can I represent myself for my eminent domain case?


    It is not recommended that you represent your own eminent domain case. People that do not deal in eminent domain or condemnation matters are often mistaken about what damages they can collect and how to properly evaluate the value of their property.

  • Q:What is the fee for my eminent domain case?


    The Potts Law Firm obtains a contingency fee for eminent domain cases based on the dollar amount above the condemning authorities' initial offer. Meaning, you’re guaranteed to make more than you were originally offered if we win your case.

  • Q:What are damages considered non-compensable in my eminent domain case?


    Things that are not compensable for your eminent domain case:

    • Noise and nuisance
    • Dust and debris
    • Offers to purchase the property that does not end up in a sale
    • Other offers to purchase other properties in the area
    • Tax valuations
    • Project influence
    • Future value of the property
    • Business income (there are very limited exclusions to this)
    • Circuity of traffic

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Explore our past successes
  • Commercial Property Dispute $713,000

    Potts Law Firm attorneys negotiated on behalf of a commercial property owner whose land was taken by the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) to make way for new road construction. TxDOT's original offer of $466,396 did not consider other reasonable comparable sales in the area.

  • Commercial Property Dispute $645,000

    Potts Law Firm attorneys negotiated a settlement on behalf of a client whose land was taken by a private power line company. The company’s original offer of $430,000 failed to consider the decrease in aesthetic value that the scenic ranch in the Texas Hill Country would incur from the power line installation.

  • East Texas Residential Property $454,000

    Potts Law Firm attorneys negotiated on behalf of a residential property owner whose East Texas land was taken by the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) to make way for new road construction. TxDOT's original offer of $31,343 did not consider damages that the remaining land would incur from the new road build.

  • Texas Residential Property $146,000

    Potts Law Firm attorneys negotiated on behalf of an East Texas residential property owner whose land was taken by a Texas condemnation authority. The original offer of $113,677 did not consider other reasonable comparable sales in the area.

  • Commercial Property Dispute Confidential Settlement

    Potts Law Firm attorneys negotiated on behalf of a South Texas commercial property owner whose land was taken by a private oil and gas pipeline company. Our eminent domain attorney utilized his past experience of working for the condemner to negotiate on behalf of his client.

Eminent Domain Cases and Condemnation Proceedings

Texas Eminent domain cases that go to trial are considered special statutory proceedings and don’t have the characteristics of a normal jury trial where your peers will be asked to consider the merits of your case.

Rather, a Texas condemnation proceeding will seek to protect your right as a property owner through compensation. Your rights as a property owner are construed liberally, whereas those of the state is viewed in stricter terms.

Emphasis is on expedience, so condemnation proceedings aren’t usually drawn out. However, anyone with an interest in the property can appear and defend in the condemnation proceedings. A compensation amount for eminent domain is awarded by an administrative body, and this is then subject to judicial review.

The strict compliance with state law during condemnation proceedings will ensure you, as the property owner, due process, as well as the protection of your constitutional rights. You just need the right eminent domain lawyer in your corner to ensure that this remains the case. With the experienced lawyers at Potts Law Firm, you are given the best legal chance to resolve your eminent domain issue.


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