What are the steps in eminent domain and condemnation in Texas? I'm David Todd, Austin, Texas eminent domain attorney, and I wanted to let you know what the basic three phases are when they're trying to take your property for a governmental public project. And the three phases are as follows.
There's the negotiation phase where you're first contacted by the condemning authority, the project builder, also known as the condemnor, and they let you know about the project. And eventually, they make you an offer on your property for either all or the portion of the property that they would like to take. And at that phase, that's called the negotiation phase, and you have an opportunity to resolve your case voluntarily in negotiation with the other side.
If that doesn't work, if you're not able to reach an agreement, then the next phase is the special commissioners or condemnation phase. That's where the condemning authority, the condemnor files the petition and condemnation, which is simply filing a regular civil lawsuit, which starts the condemnation process, which is the legal process related to eminent domain. At that point, the case goes to what's called a special commissioner hearing. The special commissioners are landowners that are appointed from within the county where the property is located, and they sit and listen in an administrative-type hearing where they hear evidence from both sides, and afterward, they come up with a number. That number is the number that the condemnor has to deposit with the registry of the court in order to start their project. Even if the sides are still arguing about the value, once that money is deposited, they can start the project.
If either side is unhappy with the result and the number that comes up from the commissioner's court, they can file an objection and you basically get a do-over as far as fighting over the value. The project can begin and they can use your property, but you can continue on into the third phase, which is the litigation phase, and that's where you go through the normal civil lawsuit process through discovery and mediation, where many cases are resolved. And then if not, then onto a trial, either a bench trial in front of a judge, or a jury trial with a jury, deciding the amount of compensation you should receive.
For more information about this whole process, more details about how it works, what the basis for eminent domain authority is, what your rights are and how to protect your land and yourself, go to our website, davidtoddlaw.com. You see a screenshot here on your screen. Go to davidtoddlaw.com. We have a lot of good, useful information for you, especially our eminent domain guide, which you can download for free. And then contact us to see how we can help you make sure that you get full compensation for what's being taken from you.
Here's a link to the Texas Landowner's Bill of Rights.