Effective Indiana Eminent Domain Attorneys
The law allows the government to take land from private owners for a public use, such as a governmental building, highway construction, construction of airports, and electrical lines. At Efron & Efron, in Hammond, Indiana, our eminent domain attorneys have significant experience helping clients maximize the compensation they receive in relation to a condemnation.
Knowledgeable Indiana Condemnation Lawyers
The fact that a government or utility can take land against the wishes of the property owner is sometimes difficult to swallow. When condemnation actions are taken or even threatened, steps should be made to ensure that the compensation to be paid is fair and just. This often requires the assistance of an attorney experienced in eminent domain and land evaluation.
There are very few ways in which an unwanted taking may be prevented. As long as the taking is for a "public purpose," there is no Constitutional challenge. There may be defects in the procedure used by the condemning authority. Otherwise, a taking for a public purpose usually cannot be prevented. When that is the case, the only practical alternative is to secure compensation for the true value of the property being condemned.
Obtaining Fair Compensation in Eminent Domain Takings
The United States and Indiana Constitutions provide that there can be no taking of private property without just compensation. Full compensation includes the fair market value (what a willing seller would take and a willing buyer would pay) of the property, based on the "highest and best use" of the property being taken, along with certain other damages to the property remaining after the taking. "Fair market value" is determined at the time of the taking. This includes such things as compensation for limited access, drainage problems, lost parking, etc. The idea is to place the property owner in as good a position as he or she would have been in had the property not been taken, insofar as monetary compensation can achieve that. "Highest and best use" does not necessarily mean the manner in which the property is currently being used, but rather the highest and best use allowed by law and circumstance. Remember, in assessing the proper compensation, value is not what you would be willing to accept for your land. The Court or jury must also consider what a willing purchaser would pay. There is no compensation for sentimental value.
The condemnation will not be halted simply because you cannot agree with the condemning authority about the value of the land being taken. The condemning authority may simply begin the legal process by filing a civil proceeding and depositing the amount its appraisers set as just compensation with the Clerk of Court. If the landowner then withdraws the money from the Clerk's office, without first obtaining a Court order to do so, the matter is over and the amount deposited will be the compensation. If the landowner chooses to contest the taking or to contest the amount, a proper response must be filed. If only the amount is being contested, the Court will usually allow the landowner to withdraw the deposit without waiving any rights. The lawsuit then proceeds.
Sometimes there can be "inverse" condemnation. This means that, even though your land isn't condemned, the project involved will have an adverse affect on your land. For example, construction of an airport nearby may result in noise that effectively diminishes or even destroys the value of your land. Usually when this happens, the only recourse for the landowner is litigation against the offending authority to seek just compensation for the loss.
Contact our Indiana Eminent Domain Attorneys
If you have any questions about condemnation or eminent domain, please contact the Indiana eminent domain lawyers at Efron & Efron. Our attorneys can be reached by phone at  931-5380, by e-mail, or by filling out the intake form on our Contact Us page.