Inverse Condemnation

What happens when the government doesn’t officially “take” your property, but still damages it? You call us. Let’s fight for your rights.

Experienced North Carolina inverse condemnation lawyers

Many people don’t want the government to take their property under eminent domain. Individuals may bitterly fight these takings in court, doing everything they can to preserve their homes or businesses.

However, property owners sometimes find themselves in the position of trying to convince the court that the government has taken their property under eminent domain. This can happen when the government damages their private property without filing an eminent domain taking or without paying just compensation.

If you have suffered financially from an action to your property caused by the government, you may have an inverse condemnation case. You have the right to go to court and try to explain that the actions of the government amount to the taking of your property. And you can fight for compensation.

These cases can be very complicated and difficult to prove as you must clearly establish the value of your property before and after the government activity. In addition, the government entity may be reluctant to set a precedent by paying compensation to you if there are other property owners it has treated in a similar manner and not paid any money.

Contact an experienced inverse condemnation lawyer to help guide you through the process.

If the government has reduced the value of your property through a physical invasion, or a restriction upon reasonable access, we may be able to help. Call the North Carolina Eminent Domain Law Firm at 1-877-393-4990 for a free consultation.

Get a free case evaluation

What is inverse condemnation?

Inverse condemnation is an action by a government entity that damages or diminishes the value of private property. Unlike in the case of a typical condemnation, in inverse condemnation cases the government entity has not filed an action or offered compensation, and the property owner can sue that entity for compensation of the lost value of the property.

What are examples of inverse condemnation?

Some examples of situations that might prompt inverse condemnation actions include:

  • Waste or runoff from a government project pollutes farmland or other property, effectively condemning the property without just compensation.
  • The Department of Transportation occupies private property for a construction project but fails to provide compensation for a temporary taking.
  • The government’s project didn’t adequately account for storm drainage and your property is repeatedly flooded.
  • The government adopts certain land use restrictions that end up precluding all economic use of property.

Inverse condemnation can result from a situation in which the government directly occupies or damages property but does not provide just compensation. The taking may affect only a small portion of the property, but the damage can be so great that it effectively condemns the entire property.

What is the difference between a direct condemnation and inverse condemnation?

One distinct difference between a direct condemnation and inverse condemnation cases is who initiates the lawsuit.

In a direct condemnation eminent domain case, the government initiates the lawsuit in acknowledgement of its obligation to compensate the property owner for taking their property. In inverse condemnation cases, the property owner brings the case to court because the government has not acknowledged that it has negatively affected or “taken” the property.


Eminent domain

Government filed the lawsuit


Inverse condemnation

Property owner filed the lawsuit

What is the main type of taking in inverse condemnation?

The main type of taking in cases of inverse condemnation is when a government entity encroaches upon or occupies property for its own use, it is considered a physical taking. These are commonly in the form of damage caused by water, deprivation of access, noise, pollution, and the disturbance of land.

When a property’s value is diminished due to governmental non-physical actions (such as ordinances, laws, and conditions) which affect, limit, or eliminate a property’s use, it is considered a regulatory taking.

Regulatory takings are often more controversial, and more common, in inverse condemnation.


Physical takings: damage to property, land seizure, access restriction or removal, possession of land after lease expiration


Regulatory takings: zoning ordinances that restrict or take away the use of the property

How do I prove inverse condemnation?

The four elements you need to prove in an inverse condemnation case are:

  1. You own the taken property.
  2. The government participated in a public project or enacted a regulation that affected your property.
  3. Your property was substantially damaged or taken.
  4. The property damage was caused by the government’s action or regulation.

To prove an inverse condemnation claim in North Carolina, a landowner must prove that the governmental action deprived the landowner of all, or substantially all, beneficial use and enjoyment of the property.

Property owners carry the burden of proof in inverse condemnation cases. An experienced inverse condemnation lawyer can help you understand the complexities involved in your case. Contact the NC Eminent Domain Law Firm for a free case evaluation today.

What does an inverse condemnation lawyer do?

Inverse condemnation attorneys help clients prepare their cases to be as strong and compelling as possible.

This may include:

  • Gathering independent, substantiated facts
  • Ensuring that the case meets certain legal standards
  • Organizing expert testimony, if needed
  • Keeping track of deadlines and statutes of limitations
  • Filing necessary paperwork
  • Representing you in court

When do I need an inverse condemnation attorney?

Do not delay in speaking with an attorney if you feel that the government has damaged your property without filing a condemnation action or paying you fairly. Your right to just compensation can disappear if you do not act in a timely manner.

In North Carolina, inverse condemnation actions must be filed within 24 months of the date of the taking or when the public project affecting the property is completed, whichever occurs later. An inverse condemnation attorney can help you understand the interplay between the facts and the law.

What is the process for filing an inverse condemnation lawsuit?

Filing an inverse condemnation lawsuit is initiated by the property owner, and the process can be stressful and time-consuming. If you want to try to hold the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) accountable for taking your property without fair compensation, you may file an inverse condemnation lawsuit by taking the following steps:

  1. File a complaint against the North Carolina Department of Transportation with the Superior Court for the County where the impacted property is located.
  2. The NCDOT can:
    • File a response within 60 days agreeing that it took your property rights and you are entitled to compensation. It will deposit the amount it believes you are entitled to. (Note: You can still argue with the NCDOT that you are owed more.)
    • Claim that it does not owe you compensation, and you can proceed with a lawsuit against the NCDOT.
  3. If you decide to proceed with a lawsuit, and a settlement is not reached, there would be a hearing before a judge to determine liability.
  4. If the judge determines that a taking has occurred, and a settlement is not reached, there is a trial (typically jury) to determine compensation.

North Carolina inverse condemnation lawyers fight for you

Inverse condemnation proceedings can be very complex, and property owners should consider hiring an experienced North Carolina condemnation lawyer to help guide them through the process.

At the North Carolina Eminent Domain Law Firm, we have experienced inverse condemnation lawyers who have worked for both the government and individual landowners in eminent domain proceedings. Find out if our eminent domain lawyers can put their experience working for “the other side” to work for you by calling 1-877-393-4990 and getting a free case evaluation.

Our firm works on a contingency fee basis, which means that if we don’t get you any additional compensation over what the government has offered you, we don’t collect an attorney’s fee. In many cases, if you successfully sue the government for inverse condemnation, the government will be responsible for your legal fees and related costs. There’s no risk, so contact us today.

Get a free case
evaluation today.

There are only a handful of attorneys in NC who practice eminent domain exclusively, and even fewer with NCDOT experience. We have several. That’s why its worth getting in touch with us for a free case evaluation.

Here’s how it works:

1) Tell us about your situation.

2) We research your property as needed, using DOT maps, our own technology, and experience to see the exact effects.

3) We let you know what we think a fair offer would be. This evaluation is free, and there’s no
pressure or obligation to hire us after.

But please don’t wait to act. Waiting can hurt your case, and the cost is the same: free.

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