When the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) threatens to exercise its eminent domain authority to take your property to widen a road or for another transportation project, it is critical to consult with an experienced eminent domain and condemnation lawyer who can help ensure your rights are protected. Engaged by IDOT in property negotiations? Many people facing condemnation of their property due to a road expansion project or other IDOT project feel alone and in an area in which they know little about. Owners hope that IDOT will be fair in paying proper compensation for their property and for the negative impact IDOT causes to their remaining property. They also may be optimistic that IDOT will be reasonable in negotiations regarding the amount of payment for their property. Owners however are often frustrated and disheartened by the amounts offered by IDOT for their property and by IDOT’s inflexible and difficult negotiating process. In fact, owners are often forced to negotiate against themselves, as IDOT rarely presents a counter-offer to an owner’s settlement proposal.
Condemnation Attorney Helping People Facing An IDOT Property Takeover
At Prime Law Group, we represent your rights in IDOT negotiations and throughout the condemnation process to help ensure you receive the full compensation to which you are entitled for your property, and in the event of a partial taking for the damage IDOT causes to the portion of your property it does not take.
Understanding The IDOT Property Taking Process
Notification and the State’s Offer: IDOT’s property taking process begins many months and even years before property owners are officially notified. However, for many people, until IDOT’s negotiator arrives at their doorstep, most of what they know is based upon rumors. The settlement packet supplied by IDOT’s negotiator will likely contain information about your property rights, an appraiser’s report, a deed for you to sell your property to IDOT, and an offer letter. Important things to understand about this stage of the process:
- IDOT may suggest you obtain an appraisal — DON’T. An appraisal will be necessary at a later stage in the process and should only be completed by an appraiser who is knowledgeable and very familiar with IDOT and condemnation. Obtaining the appraisal now could strengthen IDOT’s position in negotiations and court and will likely mean additional cost for you later.
- IDOT’s purchase offer often does not represent the amount to which you may be entitled. A thorough second opinion often reveals omissions of facts which may entitle you to additional compensation. Under the law, you are entitled to be compensated for the value of the property taken and for the amount of damages to your remaining property, including relocation costs when applicable. Condemnation attorney Bryan P. Lynch will fight to protect your rights and to get you the compensation you deserve.
IDOT’s 60-Day Notice: After supplying property owners with a written purchase offer, if an agreement is not reached, IDOT will send property owners a written 60-day notice. This notifies property owners that once 60 days lapse, IDOT will have done everything needed to proceed to court and file a condemnation lawsuit. Owners should not view the expiration of the 60-day period as fatal or causing any loss of their rights, but it should be viewed as an important stage in the condemnation process. IDOT may choose to file a lawsuit after 60 days, but it is not required to do so.
Motion for Immediate Vesting of Title (Motion for a Quick-Take Hearing): While the complaint is not necessarily filed immediately after the expiration of the 60 days, the 60-day notice provides IDOT with the legal right to file its lawsuit. After the 60-day notice period, IDOT will normally file its complaint to condemn, and is likely to promptly file a Motion for Immediate Vesting of Title (a quick-take hearing).
Quick-Take Hearings: It is critical that business and property owners are prepared for the quick-take hearing. At this evidentiary hearing, IDOT will present the court with experts, appraisers and evidence to demonstrate how much it believes it should pay you for your property and for any damages to the remainder of your property not taken. As an experienced eminent domain lawyer, Bryan P. Lynch understands the level of preparation that is necessary for successful results at these hearings against IDOT. He presents expert testimony by an independent appraiser and sometimes other experts, such as an engineer. He presents compelling evidence regarding the true value of your property, the damage to your property’s value, and the full compensation to which you are entitled.
Quick-Take Hearing Disposition: At the conclusion of the quick-take hearing, the judge will enter an order stating the amount that IDOT must first pay before IDOT can take the property. This is not the final decision. After the hearing is held and the amount is paid, the parties may agree that the amount ordered by the judge is fair, in which case a final agreement is entered into by the parties. However, either party may object to the amount as being too low or too high and proceed to a trial before a jury or further negotiate a settlement agreement. Owners should know that jury trials are very rare in condemnation matters.
Hire An Experienced Eminent Domain Lawyer To Help Ensure You Are Prepared
Many IDOT property acquisition cases are resolved prior to or shortly after quick-take hearings. These hearings represent an important opportunity for property owners to obtain an increase in IDOT’s settlement offer. However, without an experienced lawyer who presents compelling evidence regarding your side of the case, it will be very difficult to get a judge to order IDOT to pay an amount larger than what IDOT has offered you. Prompt and thorough case preparation is critical to ensuring you receive fair compensation.