Stages of an Eminent Domain Case banner

Stages of an Eminent Domain Case

An eminent domain case is a special statutory proceeding where every stage of the process requires strategical thinking and action to place the landowner in the best possible position for the best possible outcome. OCA lawyers understand this process well and know how best to navigate it. Depending upon the amount of money at issue, the complexities of the case, whether a matter is resolved through negotiations or only after a valuation trial has taken place, an eminent domain case can either be resolved quickly or over a span of several years.

Below is a general description of the various stages of a typical eminent domain case. The meaning of any highlighted term can be found in the Dictionary of Key Terms under Landowner Resources. It is to be noted that every state and jurisdiction may have a somewhat different process or arrangement of events and actions. To understand the specific process and stages in your own state, you should consult with an OCA lawyer or other eminent domain attorney.

  • Public announcement of a government project that may require acquisition of your property
  • Notification that your property is needed for a government project
  • A good faith offer to purchase your property, which is generally based on an appraisal
  • A period of negotiations between landowner and the condemning entity before a case is actually filed
  • Filing of a Petition or Complaint by the condemning entity in a court of law to commence the condemnation case
  • Filing of an Answer or other responsive document by the landowner
  • Resolution of legal challenges or defenses raised by the landowner
  • The condemning authority may seek immediate possession or a quick taking of the property to commence construction of the project, pending the ascertainment of final compensation
  • Pre-trial discovery of the relevant facts, witnesses and expert testimony to be given, and exhibits to be introduced
  • Pre-trial preparation between the lawyer, client and witnesses
  • Resolution of any pre-trial motions filed by the parties, including Motions in Limine which are designed to limit or restrict the introduction of certain evidence at trial
  • Trial or hearing
  • The judge instructs the jury on the law to apply to the facts and evidence
  • Rendering of verdict or decision on just compensation
  • Resolution of any additional fees, costs or interest due the landowner
  • Appeal