Eminent Domain vs Inverse Condemnation IT'S ALL ABOUT THE RIGHT CHOICE

What Is the Difference Between Eminent Domain and Inverse Condemnation?

There are two terms that would be beneficial to know: eminent domain and inverse condemnation. Although related, there are distinctive differences between the two. It may prove vital to learn more about these terms and better understand what your rights are in the event the government or other entity infringes upon your land.

What is Eminent Domain?

Eminent domain, also referred to as “condemnation,” is when the government takes your private property for public use. This authority was established in the “takings clause” of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution which states, “…nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” This means the government can force landowners to sell their private property for public projects that would benefit the public good. However, this does not mean that the property owners will be compensated a fair amount for their land.

As the population continues to increase, the need for basic infrastructure continues to grow as well. Sometimes the state and federal governments believe it is necessary to exercise their right of eminent domain. They may seize private land for large commercial projects, to construct schools, highways, public buildings, stadiums, shopping centers, or parks. The power of condemnation is not only limited to governments but can also be utilized by public utilities. Eminent domain is also used by utility companies to install and replace power lines and pipelines as needed.

The majority of eminent domain disputes center on whether the proposed compensation is fair. The process and procedures the condemning entities must follow vary from state to state. Thus, it is important to seek the aid of an eminent domain attorney in the state or federal jurisdiction in which your condemnation case will be litigated.

Understanding Inverse Condemnation

The government initiates eminent domain. By contrast, the property owner initiates inverse condemnation. This type of condemnation occurs when the government enacts a taking without adhering to the proper eminent domain procedures and failing to pay a reasonable payment. The property owner has the right to file an inverse condemnation claim against the condemning authority to recover just payment for the property seized.

The burden of proof lies on the property owner in this case, and they must show that the condemning authority’s taking was indeed acquired without being rightfully compensated.

Types of Inverse Condemnation Claims

  • Physical appropriations: When the government physically seizes a property interest for a public purpose.
  • Exaction: The government requires the landowner to trade money or other development concessions for the government’s approval or permit
  • Regulatory Takings: When the government over-regulates a property to the point of making it unusable.

Inverse condemnation lawsuits are usually more complex than regular eminent domain cases. The facts of your case and your ability to prove the elements of an inverse condemnation action will determine whether you have a claim. If intent, causation, and public use can be proven you may have grounds for an inverse condemnation claim. To prove intent, the plaintiff must establish that the entity knew the taking would result in harm. Causation means it would need to be proven the taking resulted in damage to the property. Finally, the landowner must indicate that the government’s taking was not used for public purposes.

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Asserting Your Rights

Now you know the appropriate terms for this legal niche and what they entail. If you are a landowner, know that there lies a possibility your property can be condemned. We understand the eminent domain process raises numerous concerns for property owners. For instance, are you being offered a fair price for your land? Is the entity attempting to acquire your land even authorized to do so? You do not have to accept the first offer you receive if you believe your property’s market value is worth higher. We recommend you consult with a proven eminent domain attorney for legal advice if your property is facing condemnation. We will be happy to discuss your case and any questions you might have. You can depend on our attorneys to help maximize the amount of compensation you receive for your property and ensure the laws are being followed by the condemning authority.


If you are unsure if you have a case, don’t hesitate to call us today for a free consultation. Our team of experienced attorneys are ready to review your claim and fight for you.


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