Your Winston-Salem Eminent Domain Attorney
When most people hear the word “condemnation,” they think of the government tearing down dilapidated buildings. Although it is true that the government does have the right to prevent people from living in homes that are dangerous and even to tear down a home if repairs are not made, the homeowner still gets to keep the land on which the condemned house was located.
The laws that govern condemned houses are very different from the laws that give the government the right to take your land and everything on it.The authority that gives the government the power to take private land for a public purpose is known as “eminent domain.” “Condemnation” is simply the process by which the government uses its eminent domain authority.
The eminent domain lawyers at Lewis & Keller can provide comprehensive representation to help fight against the taking of your North Carolina property or commercial land. Armed with extensive experience, we understand the complexities of condemnation law. We’ve guided many families just like yours through the complicated eminent domain process, and we can help you too!
We’re Here for
We make getting the help you need with your case easy! Once we determine that you have a case, we handle everything else.
The North Carolina Constitution guarantees you must be paid “just compensation,” and we work hard to defend that legally protected right.
We Know This Is a Difficult Time
You worked hard for your home and it belongs to you and your family. To hear that someday your home, your land, your investment, and your children’s inheritance are going to be taken by the government is terrifying. You may be upset and uncertain about the next steps. Lewis & Keller can help you understand the eminent domain process, explain what you can do to protect yourself, and take care of the entire legal process on your behalf.
From gathering evidence of your property’s true value to filing your lawsuit to fighting earnestly for your maximum compensation, the champions for every client at Lewis & Keller will take all of the added stress off. Our goal is to make you feel satisfied with the results of a situation that would otherwise be distressing for you and your family.
See What Our Clients Say
Do You Have a Case?
Explore the tabs below to learn more about eminent domain and the government’s role in property condemnation.
What is the Takings Clause?
The takings clause is the part of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that allows for eminent domain. It states that when the government tries to take property from an individual or business owner, they must provide just compensation and be able to demonstrate that they will use it for public use.
Lewis & Keller challenges government land condemnation cases where the projects do not qualify for public use or where there are other ways for the project to be completed without depriving you and your family of your home. We also work to make sure you are justly compensated for the property.
The Government’s Case
In order to succeed in condemning land, the government’s team of lawyers must demonstrate that the private property is being seized for legitimate, necessary public use purposes and that the offer you have received for your home or business is fair compensation.
Our top-of-the-line North Carolina eminent domain attorneys can ensure that your home or business is being condemned legally and also ensure that you receive the financial compensation to which you and your family are entitled.
Elite North Carolina Land Condemnation Lawyers
For decades, the land condemnation attorneys at Lewis & Keller have helped clients resolve their most pressing land condemnation legal problems.
Our founding partner, Mike Lewis, has been recognized by U.S. News/Best Lawyers for his expertise in land condemnation every year since 2007.
If the government is threatening to take your home or your business, please contact us immediately.
What Compensation Am I Entitled to For My Property?
Under the law in North Carolina, the landowners in an eminent domain case are required to prove that they are entitled to receive compensation and to establish the amount they are due. This amount can be determined by the “measure of damages,” which refers to the fair market value of the property at the time when the lawsuit was filed.
If all of this is overwhelmingly confusing, don’t get discouraged! We know this may sound like a lot of complicated information, but for us, it is second nature. In the decades worth of eminent domain cases that we’ve handled for our North Carolina neighbors, we’ve always fought for the highest amount legally available to our clients.
If you’re concerned about receiving just compensation for your soon-to-be condemned property, we are always available to provide a free consultation and work with you to reach a fair agreement.
The fair market value of any property will be the amount that would be agreed upon as a fair price by an owner who wishes to sell but is not compelled to do so, and a buyer who wishes to buy but is not compelled to do so.
Our Results Speak For themselves
Settlement For Motorcycle Accident
Settlement For Female Plaintiff
Workers’ Compensation Settlement
How Can Lewis & Keller Help?
The attorneys at Lewis & Keller have a deep understanding of eminent domain law and are committed to championing the rights of every client. If you are facing an eminent domain issue, we can help. We know this is a worrisome time for you and we are here to make it as hassle-free as possible. Our experience and dedication will give you the best chance to successfully navigate this process. Please contact us so we can discuss your specific situation and how we can help.
With our assistance, you will maximize your chances of getting fair compensation for your home or business property.
What Comes Next?
If it appears that your property may be affected by eminent domain, you can protect yourself by being proactive. Following the appropriate steps before your land is taken will increase your chances of receiving a favorable settlement for your property.
After contacting an eminent domain attorney from our firm for your cost-free consultation, these are the steps you should take to ensure you get the most out of this process:
- Refrain from applying for building permits and zoning changes.
- Keep up the appearance and condition of your property.
- Do not give the government a copy of appraisal reports, income statements, or other personal property information.
- Ask about relocation benefits that you may be eligible for.
- Avoid sales contracts or listing agreements.
In some instances, you may also be approached by a property appraiser or representative of the government prior to the land being seized. It’s vital that you do not speak to any government representatives without first speaking to an attorney. Your statements may be recorded and used against you in the future to lower your settlement offer. Important questions that your attorney will likely ask or advise you to ask the government representative are:
- Is the proposed project funded?
- Will the government seize my property?
- Am I eligible for an “advanced acquisition”?
Every bit of information that you can obtain prior to your land being taken will help you in this process. This is because these details can be used by your team at Lewis & Keller to help fortify your lawsuit, ensuring that it is as strong as possible before going to court. We will make absolutely certain that the government has followed the proper fair notice steps.
Eminent Domain FAQs
How Can the D.O.T. Take My Property?
The D.O.T. may take private property for the “public good” where they determine that it is necessary to do so to provide safer and more modern highways. Their goal is to take into account the public’s well-being, feasible engineering, safety, and economic standpoints, and create the least amount of inconvenience or hardship for the public.
After the D.O.T. selects and approves a route and the highway design is complete, right-of-way agents for the state contact all affected property owners. These right-of-way agents will provide information to landowners about how the project will be constructed, and they will also obtain information about your property.
If you will be required to move, a relocation agent will also contact you to discuss assistance and payment allowances.
The D.O.T. will then make you a written offer for your land which will include:
- the amount offered as just compensation;
- a description of the property to be taken; and
- an identification of all buildings and other improvements which will be taken.
How Long Will the Process Take After the Lawsuit Is Filed?
Condemnation suits have priority scheduling under North Carolina law. Nevertheless, it normally takes anywhere from nine to eighteen months after your answer is filed until the case is actually scheduled for trial. This time period can vary depending upon the number of cases pending and how often court is held in the county where your land is located.
Because the process may take some time, we highly recommend getting started as soon as you know your property will be taken.
How Much Money Can I Get?
It is very likely that your property is worth more than what you were originally offered.
However, each case is different, so there is no set formula for how much more a landowner will be able to get. Under the law in North Carolina, if a settlement cannot be reached, the property owner is entitled to damages for the loss of the fair market value of the property. A jury from the county where the property is located decides the amount of the fair market value.
Usually, the best way to determine how much more you are likely to get on top of the original offer is to obtain an appraisal from a certified real estate expert who is qualified to testify on your behalf at trial. Once this information has been obtained, a realistic range of compensation should be determinable by your attorney at Lewis & Keller.
How Much Will Legal Representation Cost Me?
Lewis & Keller offers free legal consultations, so you get the legal advice and direction you need to move forward at no charge!
In these cases, the property owner is entitled to immediately get the funds deposited by the government when the lawsuit is filed. Attorney fees are typically contingent on getting you more than the amount of the deposit.