Under Florida eminent domain law, it is constitutionally mandated that property owners’ attorneys are paid reasonable fees by the condemning authority (e.g., the governmental entity or utility company taking the property at issue). This constitutional protection does not mean that the affected property owners’ attorneys work for the condemning authority. They do not. They work solely for the affected property owner. Florida’s rule simply means that the property owners’ attorneys — after having worked for the affected property owner — will have their fees paid by the condemning authority at the end of the case.
This is an important protection for Florida property owners, and it is not a protection shared by all of the other states. In neighboring Georgia and Alabama, for example, property owners — not the condemning authority — must bear the burden for paying their attorneys and experts in eminent domain cases.
In these neighboring states, it can be difficult, if not impossible, for affected property owners to use the legal system to challenge a condemning authority’s assessment of the value of the property taken and the damages caused by an eminent domain taking. In Georgia and Alabama, litigation and trial costs can overwhelm the compensation for the property taken, and the property owner can be left with nothing.
In Florida, such a dire result will not occur. Florida property owners will not have to pay attorneys and experts to review their eminent domain cases and seek full compensation for the property acquired and resulting damage to remaining property. This constitutional protection allows Florida property owners to challenge condemning authorities’ assessments of the compensation due to them because of an eminent domain taking.
If you own property in Florida that may be affected by an eminent domain taking and you have questions or concerns about how attorneys’ fees are paid under Florida law, please contact Fixel & Willis’s firm manager, Susie Harris, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone toll-free at 1-800-848-7535.