Thinking about hiring an eminent domain attorney to help you try to maximize the offer you receive from the government for your land? We think that’s a smart move for a number of reasons.
But how much does our help cost you? Many people are afraid that an eminent domain attorney will cost them more than they could possibly gain, or that they’ll have to pay more than they can afford before they ever see a payout. That sad misconception keeps them from ever hiring someone to represent them. That should not happen.
What are contingency fees and how do they work in eminent domain?
You may have heard about contingency fee arrangements from other types of attorneys – that’s when a lawyer only charges you an attorney’s fee when they’re able to get compensation for you. It’s the “we get paid, when you get paid” deal.
You’re probably wondering, “Where’s the catch?” Typically the contingency fee for an eminent domain lawyer is somewhere around one-third of the additional amount you receive. With us, eminent domain attorney fees never come from the government’s initial offer on your property.
For example, let’s say the NCDOT has offered you $100,000 for a piece of your property. You hire us because you feel that the offer is very low, and you’re right. We’re able to help you negotiate the government’s offer up to $400,000.
Here’s where the money goes:
Are contingency fees a better deal than an hourly fee?
That’s for you to decide, but we think so. If you’re looking for an eminent domain attorney, we recommend trying to find one that works on a contingency fee basis, so you don’t have to pay by the hour for their services.
Here’s why: Those hours can be very costly and often add up quickly in a long drawn-out process like eminent domain – plus you run the risk of paying those hours for no results at all. On a contingency fee basis, you have no upfront costs and you’re not responsible for paying an attorney’s fee in the event that they aren’t successful.
What about other fees?
If you’re still looking for the catch, you’re right to be wary. There are a number of other costs that are incurred when fighting an eminent domain case over and above the condemnation attorney fees. Surveyors, appraisers, and other experts do not offer their opinions for free. There are costs incurred.
Our firm assumes those costs in the event that we cannot get the government to raise its offer. If we’re unable to get you more for your property, we do not charge an attorney’s fee and we assume the sunk costs of our work on your case.
In other words, if you hire us, and we don’t get results, you don’t pay us a dime. We won’t take money out of your pocket.
Hiring an eminent domain attorney can reduce risk
You’re already going to get paid for your land thanks to the government’s initial offer. Why would you want to risk that money? The truth is, you won’t. People often make the mistake of believing that they may lose the initial offer if they try to get more. That’s not how eminent domain works. The initial offer is yours regardless of what happens after.
Now, what if you could collect the government’s initial offer without technically accepting it – and then let an eminent domain attorney try to get you even more money for your property? You actually can.
The Second Check System
At the NC Eminent Domain Law Firm, we employ what we call “The Second Check System.” Basically it works like this:
- You don’t accept the government’s offer.
If at any point in the eminent domain process you accept the government’s offer, your ability to negotiate for more will almost always be lost. A qualified attorney can help you avoid accidentally settling, and ensure you follow the steps needed to preserve your ability to negotiate.
- They deposit the offer anyway.
In North Carolina, if you don’t accept the government’s offer for your land, they will just deposit it with the county clerk and take your land anyway. That’s right – once they file with the court, your land is theirs!
- You collect the offer.
There is a way for you to collect this deposit without formally accepting it and thereby settling the entire case. We recommend that you consult your land condemnation attorney for more information on how to do this.
- Your eminent domain attorney negotiates for more.
With the government’s initial offer in-hand, you then have almost no risk when your eminent domain attorney begins negotiations to try to maximize your compensation. Remember: at our firm, this “second check” is the check that our fees will come from. You get to keep everything else. And if we aren’t able to get you any additional compensation, we don’t collect an attorney’s fee and you don’t have to pay the costs we incurred to work your case.
Need an NC land condemnation attorney?
At the NC Eminent Domain Law Firm, we can guide you through the process from start to finish – and it doesn’t affect the amount of fees you will incur. The sooner you hire an eminent domain attorney, the sooner they can start protecting your rights.
Four of our attorneys are former NC Department of Transportation lawyers, so they know how the process works. Call us any time at 1-877-393-4990 or contact us online for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.