Hi. What does eminent domain mean? Eminent domain is usually in conjunction with a government entity such as the Florida Department of Transportation or a county building a road, although it can be used by utilities to obtain easements. The government must compensate private property owners if they take their property and the process is called eminent domain and is a lawsuit that is filed to take someone’s property for public use.
The process usually starts by the governmental entity or utility contacting a property owner and asking them to donate the property. And usually the answer, it may be yes or no depending on if they need to road to go by their property or through their property. They don’t have to give the property to the governmental agency and the governmental agency or utility will then get an appraisal and tell them that they will pay them this certain amount of money.
The property owner does not have to take the amount that’s offered. If they don’t, they can negotiate with the county but usually the county will proceed with what they call a quick take program or lawsuit, which is an eminent domain proceeding whereby they deposit the money that they’ve offered to the property owner in the registry at the court and the court will then let the county take the property.
Then if you hire a lawyer and you negotiate further with the county then the price can go up once the property owner gets his own appraisals. If they can’t ever agree on or settle on an amount for the property, it then goes to a trial by jury and in Florida there’s only two times that you get twelve people in a jury box: one is a first-degree murder case and the other is an eminent domain proceeding. And then the jury of your peers are the ones that would determine how much money you would receive for your property in an eminent domain proceeding. One other nice thing about Florida’s eminent domain proceeding is the government entity is responsible for paying your attorney fees, which is a percentage of the increase between the amount that you receive and the amount that’s offered by the government or utility that’s taking your property.
So if you have any questions about eminent domain or if you get a letter in the mail that they’re gonna be taking your property, give me a call at 727-847-2288.