The legal issues involved in the evidence used in condemnation cases for proving damages can be very complex and are dependent on the facts of each particular case. In general, where a portion of property is taken for highway purposes, the basic compensation for land taken by condemnation is the difference in fair market value of the entire tract of land just before the taking and the value immediately after the taking with consideration given to any benefits resulting to the remaining portion from utilization of the part taken for highway purposes. For example, if a person owns a 10 acre tract of land worth $100,000 and the condemnation takes 1 acre and the remaining 9 acres are worth $75,000, the compensation for the taking would be $25,000. Where the entire tract of land is taken, the compensation is the fair market value of the land at the time of the taking.
There are a number of elements that influence the ultimate amount that is recovered for property taken in a condemnation action.
- The fair market value of the land is determined as of the “date of taking.” The date of the filing of the petition or complaint is the “date of taking.” Even if the trial is some time after the date of taking, the compensation is still computed as of the date of taking.
- The amount of any compensation awarded will be reduced by any amount paid in advance by the condemning authority with the filing of the petition.
- You can recover interest on the amount of compensation awarded that exceeds the amount paid in advance by the condemning authority.
- In North Carolina, compensation cannot be awarded for loss of a business maintained on the land taken. However, where the taking results in a business loss that renders the land less valuable, the landowner can recover for the reduction in value of the land itself.
- In determining the fair market value of land, the “highest and best” use of the land should be considered, not just the use to which the land is being applied at the time of condemnation.
- Where a building is located on the land condemned, the value of the building is considered in computing the value of the land taken and the compensation awarded.
- Loss of access to a public highway can constitute a taking of property.