How Does the State of Indiana Handle Eminent Domain Cases?

The United States Constitution and Indiana law calls for fair compensation for landowners deprived of their land for the purpose of public works. The legal concept of eminent domain, sometimes inadvertently referred to as eminent domain, authorizes this process that essentially condemns a property, or a portion of it, and then forces its owner to sell it for public use or development. However, landowners have the right to protest an eminent domain action under certain circumstances. Because eminent domain has significant authority under the law to take your property, the advice of an Indiana lawyer is essential as soon as you become involved in an eminent domain action. 

What Are Condemning Authorities?

 At times, roads, schools, utility infrastructure, or other public projects require acquiring land from private owners. The legal power to use eminent domain lies with condemning authorities, such as:

  • State, county, city, town, and township governments
  • School corporations
  • Utilities
  • Indiana Department of Transportation

Eminent Domain Process for Landowners

 The entity claiming eminent domain acts as the condemnor. The law obligates the condemnor to make a good faith offer to the landowner based on the fair market value. An independent appraiser will calculate the land value. 

 As the property owner, you do not have to accept the value the first appraiser computes for the condemnor. Conversations with Noblesville lawyers at Webster & Garino LLC could help you decide your next steps, which could be:

  • Accepting the offer
  • Opening negotiations to improve the offer
  • Obtaining a second appraisal
  • Preparing objections and defenses to the forthcoming condemnor’s lawsuit

 Once a property owner receives an offer for the taking of their property, the property owner will have thirty days to accept or reject the offer.   After thirty days, a condemnor will likely file a lawsuit or complaint in condemnation to force property transfer. In response, you can file an objection within a specified period of time of receiving the complaint, if the case can be made that the condemnor does not have the authority or a valid reason to use eminent domain.

 If you choose not to object or your objection is overruled, the condemnor will deposit the amount of the original offer made to you with the Court and proceed with the taking of the property for public use.  The next step will be the determination of the amount of money owed to you for the taking of your property.  The court will assign an appraiser or multiple appraisers to calculate your damages as the landowner. Once the appraiser(s) report to the court, you or the condemnor may file objections to the report and the Court will then set the issue of damages for trial, which will determine the final total for damages unless you negotiate a pretrial settlement. 

Contact a Real Estate Lawyer

 When property owners receive notice of a proposed project or receive an offer for the taking of their property, it is imperative that they contact a Carmel real estate attorney.  An experienced eminent domain attorney, will assist you in determining first, if the condemnor has the authority to take your property, and, if so, will assist in the negotiations and aggressively advocate your interest during litigation.  An Indiana lawyer at Webster & Garino LLC will provide a thorough evaluation of your rights and options in an eminent domain case. Contact our office today at (317) 565-1818.

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