In eminent domain cases, the property owner is NOT obligated to take what the government offers but is entitled to “just compensation”.
Just Compensation, as required by both State and Federal law, is intended to fully and completely indemnify the property owner in money for what he or she has lost in property.
When the entire property is taken, the compensation paid the property owner should be the total fair market value of the property. When only a portion of the property is taken, the property owner is entitled to be compensated not only for the value of the property being taken but also for any damage, or loss in value, suffered by the remaining property as a result of the taking.
In many cases, the negative impact the project will have on the remaining property is a significant part of the damages.
In Mississippi, just compensation is determined by use of the “Before and After Rule”.
The property owner must obtain the services of a qualified real estate appraiser who understands how this rule works and will be willing and able to testify in court as to his or her application of the rule to the owner's property. Not all appraisers are familiar with this process so it is important that the property owner discuss the choice of an appraiser with counsel before employing one.
In order to maximize compensation, it is critical that the property owner obtain experienced eminent domain counsel who understands the valuation process as soon as possible after learning that their property will be taken.