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Eminent Domain Explained

It can be alarming to receive notice from either the state government or a company that they intend to seize your land on a certain date. In addition, the money you are offered is rarely, if ever, fair for what your property is likely worth. If you find yourself in this situation, you need a tough, intelligent attorney who has the experience, knowledge and determination to fight for you and get you the money you deserve for your property.

We also have the experts, including surveyors and appraisers, you will need to fight and win against the government.

The Jackman Law Firm does not get paid unless you do. We don’t charge by the hour or ask for a retainer or any upfront fees. Our Tacoma eminent domain lawyer will simply take a small percentage of whatever additional money you receive for your land. We stake our time on your success.

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The Rights of the Government

Eminent domain is an area of property law. It allows a state or the federal government to force property owners to sell their property so their land can be used by the public. The power for the government to take people’s property and then use it for a different purpose comes from the US Constitution. Every state in the US has adopted a similar law to their state constitution. There are limits, however, on what the government can do.

One such limit is that the government has to take the land legally, according to the constitution.  Not every taking by the government, in other words, is entirely constitutional. There are arguments that can stop the government’s taking altogether, though these can be difficult to implement.

The second limit is that the government has to provide just compensation, which is often argued about between the attorneys for the government and the landowner. For example, it’s not always the case that the government provides money that is fair for your land’s actual value.

A knowledgeable Tacoma attorney could further explain the legal basics of eminent domain during a consultation.

In addition to the government, a private company, acting through the government, can also acquire your land. This is most often an oil company that needs your land to run their pipeline. As the footprint of city and business infrastructure expands, as it has exponentially over the last hundred years, more and more landowners are going to experience eminent domain. In addition, the state or federal government may grant their power to a private company so the private company can take private property. The taking of private property from a landowner by either the state government or a private company is called condemnation.

Neither state government nor private companies can just take private property without paying the landowner “just compensation.” Unfortunately, it is rare that the landowner truly receives money that is fair. In addition, there are complex legal codes and hurdles landowners have to go through just to receive payment.

The Jackman Law Firm can help landowners receive just compensation. Our eminent domain lawyers in Tacoma offer free consultations and do not charge by the hour. We simply receive a modest percentage of whatever additional money we fight to get a landowner.

Get Help Navigating the Complicated World of Eminent Domain Law

The Law of Eminent Domain

The United States Constitution explains the law of eminent domain, and every state constitution in the country has a similar law. This law states that the government can take private property as long as the taking is for public use and as long as the government pays the landowner just compensation. If a private company receives permission from the government to act on its behalf, then the private company can also use eminent domain power to take land from landowners. Given the rapid expansion of roads and projects throughout the country, the government and private companies have taken more and more property from landowners over the last decade, and it is likely to continue.

What Does the Government Use Eminent Domain to Build?

There are many different public works that the U.S. government creates after taking land through eminent domain, including but not limited to:

  • Streets
  • Highways
  • Tollways
  • Pipelines, especially oil, gas and water
  • Drainage systems, especially sewer and water
  • Government buildings
  • Schools
  • Military installations
  • Power stations

These are valuable services, but they should not stem from the unlawful taking of land. Our Tacoma eminent domain attorneys could investigate the circumstances behind the seizure of a property and make sure that the government offered fair compensation. Contact us online to learn more about this process.


You can certainly challenge the taking, but understand this is normally an uphill battle you will likely lose. Since eminent domain is widely accepted, it’s hard to win unless you can show that the government is not taking your property for a legitimate public use. If you refuse, the government will file an action in court and you will have to appear in court, if asked, and file the appropriate legal documents in opposition to those filed by the government. If you lose, and the judge allows the taking to go forward, then a new trial will be started that allows each to make the case for the land’s value.

Every lawyer is different, but The Jackman Law Firm charges a third of whatever money you recover from the government, provided that amount is greater than the original offer you received. We only get paid, in other words, unless you both win and your award is greater than what you would have received without help.

This is a procedure to attempt to settle your case. The special commissioner is made up of three landowners who have no interest or relationship to you or your case. A judge selects them. The commissioners will hear you and your attorney make your case for the value of your land, as well as the government’s side, and from there they will decide the value of your land.

You don’t have to accept the offer from the government. You can fight for more money, but be aware you are going to need certain experts to validate your position, including surveyors, appraisers, and real estate brokers. These experts can persuade the judge or jury the true value of your land.

Every case is unique and different. It can take anywhere from a few months to a few years. In general, cases where the government is involved take a long time, typically a year or so. If a private company is involved, the process will usually be much faster.

You have three years from the date of the accident.

Statistically, it is not likely since most cases settle out of court, but the best way to settle the case is to prepare as though you are going to trial.

It is important to understand whether your doctor can clearly separate which accident caused your injuries. The Jackman Law Firm can assist you in this.