Frequently Asked Questions

What is eminent domain?
Eminent domain is the involuntary transfer of property ownership to the government for monetary compensation, but without the owner’s consent.

What is condemnation and how does it relate to the power of eminent domain?
Condemnation is the act of exercising the power to take the title of a property from a private owner to the government for a public purpose. The power is known as the power of eminent domain. This power comes from the United States Constitution and state constitutions.

Who may condemn property?
Federal, state and local governmental agencies may condemn private property, or delegate the power of eminent domain to third parties, such as utility companies, like NV Energy.

What justification must the government have for taking my property?
The government may only condemn property for a “public purpose.” This intent has been broadly construed by the courts in favor of condemning authorities.

Normally, property taken by eminent domain is used for public utilities, highways, and railroads which serve the public at large.

Do I have to accept the government’s purchase offer to take my property?
No. You can decline the government’s offer. And, before the government can occupy your property, it must deposit that money with the Court and we will then immediately withdraw that money for you. This withdrawal does not waive your right to contest how much more compensation you believe should be paid for the taking of your property.

The government is only taking a portion of my property, what should I do?
Any time the government only takes a portion of your property the remainder of your land not taken may be impacted. If your property is negatively impacted, you may be compensated for this, in addition to being paid for the land the government actually does take.

However, make sure you never settle a partial property taking case without proper legal representation. If you do so before the government project is completed and the proper safeguards are not put in place by an eminent domain attorney, the construction plans could change, which could further impact your property and you will have no recourse to seek additional damages caused by the changed plans because you already settled your case.

How is my property valued in an eminent domain proceeding?
You are entitled to be paid “just compensation” for the taking of your property.

What is just compensation?
Just compensation has been determined by the United States and Nevada Supreme Courts to mean that amount of money that puts you in as good a position after the taking as you would have been in had your property never been taken.

In other words, just compensation demands that you be paid the “highest price” for your property based upon its “highest and best use.”

Keep in mind: A property’s highest and best use is not necessarily the use to which the property is put at the time it is taken by the government. Rather, we look at land use plans, and zoning designations and other indicators of value and their probability to change in your favor to find the most valuable use of your property. This is a legally and judicially accepted method of valuation, which we use to build your case for just compensation and then expand on it through testimony of expert witnesses. In most cases, this can add substantial additional value to your property.

Am I entitled to collect interest on my just compensation award and, if so, how is it determined?
Interest on your award may be compounded annually at a minimum prime rate of the largest commercial bank, plus an additional two percent for each year that the government has taken your property.

Interest may run from the time the property is taken until the time you are awarded just compensation.

Do I pay taxes on my just compensation award?
You have three calendar years to reinvest your eminent domain award in “like kind” property and avoid paying taxes on your just compensation award. We will give you helpful paperwork to take to your accountant so that you may consult with him or her to determine your best reporting avenue.

 

Back to What You Need to Know