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Rights of Nebraska Property Owners

Omaha Eminent Domain Lawyer

American property owners are protected from improper condemnation proceedings and are entitled to just compensation if their property is subject to seizure under eminent domain. The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution clearly states "...nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." State laws also address eminent domain and property owners' rights. In Nebraska, eminent domain laws can be found in the Nebraska Constitution and Nebraska Revised Statutes. Though Nebraska Revised Statutes §76-725 (2011)provides that Nebraska can acquire lands necessary for any state use through eminent domain, condemnation of such property must be carried out following specific steps, and property owners still have rights in these proceedings.

The government cannot simply step in and take a taxpayer's property without notice or due process. Property owners have a right to be notified that their property is subject to eminent domain and may negotiate with the public authority that wishes to acquire the property. The public authority may offer a certain amount of money to the owner for the property in question based upon an appraisal, and the property owner has the right to negotiate for a higher amount or deny the offer, taking legal action to pursue just compensation.

A property owner has the right to appeal an assessment made by appraisers with the district court of the county in which the petition to initiate condemnation proceedings was filed. This appeal must be filed within 30 days of the appraisers' report.

A property owner has the right to challenge the validity of the acquisition on the grounds that it does not meet the necessary requirements for public purpose or public necessity. For example, the government must want the land for a valid purpose, such as to build a road, park, school or other purpose that serves the needs or well-being of the public. If the property owner can prove that the proposed condemnation does not serve this purpose, the proceedings may be stopped.

Nebraska property owners have the right to just compensation if part or all of their property is seized by the government for public use. Compensation may be determined based off fair market value as well as any economic impact that the loss of such property will have on the owner. For example, if the owner was using the land for crops, he or she may be entitled to compensation not only for the value of the land but for the loss of income that would have resulted from crops grown on the land. In some cases, compensation may also be awarded to pay for legal fees for an attorney that the property owner hires to challenge condemnation proceedings.

According to Nebraska Revised Statutes §76-702 (2011), if the public authority has taken property or has used and damaged property without following condemnation proceedings, the property owner may file a petition with the county judge in the county where the property is located, to seek compensation. Damages will be determined and paid to the property owner if he or she is found in the right.

DominaLaw Group: Protecting Landowners' Rights

If you would like to learn more about your rights as a landowner facing eminent domain, now is the time to act. You need to move quickly to challenge such proceedings and may also benefit from getting a clear understanding of what you should and shouldn't do from the very beginning to protect your property and right to compensation. At DominaLaw Group, we represent property owners across Nebraska and offer a free case evaluation to help you get started. Contact our firm today to get started.

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