How Damages Are Calculated in Eminent Domain Cases

Damages need to be calculated correctly for eminent domain cases to ensure fair and reasonable compensation. In order to do this, all factors of the case need to be understood including the issues with the land owner, what eminent domain means and how this affects the courtroom and all involved parties.

When the government needs to seize private property for public use of some sort, the agency, agent or entity usually provides just and fair compensation to the landowner. This may be for a highway, railway, a school or even easements to commercial or industrial structures and land. For a fair and just amount of compensation to be given, the definition is taken from the Constitution of the United States. This means the value of the property as a whole minus what is taken from the agency or person. The difference in these two is usually what is provided to the current owner.

To determine the correct amount in these cases, an expert, appraiser or other professional may be hired to assess the value minus any repairs and necessary improvements. In order to understand the damages for eminent domain cases, an expert witness or outside source may be needed. Some cases have court appointed appraisers to determine the value that is provided to the owner for the seizure of the land. However, some factors may decrease this amount based on benefits and other elements of the situation. The primary value is essentially deemed to be the fair market amount of compensation provided to the seller when he or she is negotiating the sale of the land without being forced as well as the buyer in the same circumstances.

Eminent Domain

The government is provided the ability to take private land through purchase to a private citizen when there is a need. Usually this need is due to a highway, freeway or easement on a commercial property necessary for business. However, some of these cases could entail government buildings that are used to house contaminants, to create a scientific structure or research location for certain matters. The why is not as important as the where in these events. This means that the area chosen is more important than any wants or needs of the owner of the land. He or she usually is required to sell the property with a fair market compensation value applied.

When the value needs to be determined for the seizure of the land, an appraiser, surveyor or other professional may need to specifically analyze the property. He or she may require time to assess how much damage exists that could lower the compensation provided to the landowner. If there are sections that must be repair, this often takes a portion of the payment away as the government agency needs to make these repairs before the public project starts. Improvements may not be taken into account, but other factors such as contaminants may significantly affect the value amount. The cost of the professional may also be included in the compensation.

Partial Seizure

When only a portion of the land is taken from a landowner, there is the potential for residue damages. This is when the remaining property not affected is affected by the seizure. This could change the shape, size and similar factors of the real estate left. The land itself and any improvements made may be affected by these damages, and this could include elements of the public use of the land such as if the highway is far too close to the structures on the left over portion. When the government takes the property, residue damages may cause conflict with the agency. This is added to the value of compensation provided when determined by the judge.

Other Matters and Damages

There are other possible compensation matters such as the cost-to-cure damage that must be considered in these seizures. This is when something is needed to remedy the issue where if not applied, the harm to the seizure would be worse. This is usually affected by partial land seizures where certain items are affected such as an air and heat system that existed on the land grabbed by the government. Instead of repairs, a replacement may be cheaper.

It is essential to hire a lawyer to assist with these matters. This legal representative may assist in determining damages and providing a protection to the landowner so that he or she is fully compensated for matters that might be left out of the case by the government agency.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.
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