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Is “just compensation” really enough?

On Behalf of | Dec 15, 2021 | Eminent Domain |

Eminent domain laws allow the government to procure land that they need for certain projects. For instance, if a freeway is being expanded, they may have to take land that is owned by nearby small businesses, and they do have the legal right to do this when the projects are deemed beneficial for the public.

That said, the government does have a legal obligation to provide just compensation for that land. This is done to make sure that landowners still get something, which is the fair market value of their property, even though they are losing that property to the government. The idea behind this was simply to make it so the government couldn’t exploit people by simply taking property when necessary. That compensation is required.

That said, you may not feel that just compensation is nearly enough for what you’re losing.

What is the property worth to you?

For example, maybe you’re a store owner and the store has been in your family for three generations. It’s a fixture in this part of Texas, and you’re very proud of what your grandparents built and the legacy they left to you.

The government may come in and offer you fair market value, but that doesn’t mean you want to sell. The sentimental value of your property isn’t going to be reflected in whatever the market would pay you for the land. This can make the whole thing feel very unfair, even though you’re getting paid, and even when you can see that the value of the land is reflected in that payment.

You also have to consider that this may create unexpected complications for you and your family. Yes, you’re being paid for your land or your business, but you didn’t want to stop working there. That was your career, your future, and possibly the future for your children. Again, from a strictly financial perspective, the compensation may be equal to what the land would get if you sold, but that doesn’t change the fact that you did not want to sell in the first place.

Exploring your options

You can see just how complicated and frustrating eminent domain cases can get. Make sure you know about all of the options you have and exactly what legal steps you can take.