Eminent Domain in Pennsylvania
Important Information for Property Owners
Power of the GovernmentThe power of the federal and state government to take private property for a public purpose, even if the property owner objects, is known as eminent domain. The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution allows the government to take private property if the taking is for a public use and the owner is "justly compensated" (usually, paid fair market value) for his or her loss. A public use is virtually anything that is sanctioned by a federal or state legislative body, such as roads, oil and gas pipelines, parks, reservoirs, schools, hospitals, or other public buildings.
Money Available for Attorney, Appraiser or EngineerWhen the government condemns land for a public use, it will attempt to spend as little as possible in obtaining the property, often failing to fully value the landowner's loss. If the government has condemned your land, you should seek the advice and assistance of a skilled attorney. The Eminent Domain Code provides for the reimbursement of up to $4,000 to the condemnee or landowner for the services of an attorney, appraiser and/or engineer to assist in evaluating the impact on the affected property. No landowner should accept the offered settlement amount without discussing the matter with an experienced eminent domain attorney and having their own appraisal completed. A qualified attorney can also carefully review your situation to determine whether you may be entitled to receive additional benefits beyond any settlement offer.