Texas Lawyers Maximizing Compensation for Pipeline Easements
With all the drilling for oil and gas going on in Texas, energy companies are faced with a dilemma that affects Texas landowners - how to get the oil or gas from the wellhead to the distribution system. Once a well is successfully drilled, the focus becomes distribution. Unfortunately, in order to get the oil and gas to market, pipelines must be built. In most cases, that means crossing private property.
Texas condemnation procedure requires that adequate compensation be paid for the land taken. That includes land taken for pipeline purposes. As you may have heard in the news, the Texas Legislature enacted laws that allow some private companies the right of eminent domain, a procedure once reserved for the State. In order to avail itself of the right of eminent domain, a private company must be authorized by statute and the taking must be for public use. Once a company passes these hurdles, it may qualify for eminent domain power.
As a landowner, you may be first approached by a representative of the energy company during the survey process where the company is determining the location of the pipeline. Once a location is determined, you may be contacted by a representative to “negotiate” compensation for your land. Obviously, the goal for the company is to negotiate a low price. This is especially true in the case of a private company focused on the “bottom line”. Please keep in mind that you have important legal rights throughout the entire process.
In the event negotiations fail, the company may initiate condemnation proceedings. That normally involves asking the District Court in your area to appoint three commissioners to make a determination of adequate compensation. This process involves a hearing before the commissioners where evidence may be presented. You may attend with or without legal representation. Once the commissioners make an award, you may appeal it to the appropriate court if you are dissatisfied. Please understand that there are very specific requirements and deadlines that must be met in order to appeal an award of the commissioners. Do not hesitate to contact our office if you have any questions at any point in the process.
If an award is appealed, your case usually proceeds in District Court where you may have the issue of compensation decided by a judge or jury. Again, you have important legal rights which should be protected. Contact our office today for a free consultation if you want to maximize your compensation.