Business Damages

Severance and business damages are both available in appropriate cases, but they should not be confused. Severance damages are part of the constitutional guarantee of "full compensation" and reimburse the owner for the reduction in value the taking causes to any remaining land, while business damages are a creature of statute and compensate the owner for "probable" reductions in business value, business losses, or increased business expenses "reasonably cause[d]" by the taking.

Florida Statues Section 73.071(3)(b) provides:

(b) Where less than the entire property is sought to be appropriated, any damages to the remainder caused by the taking, including, when the action is by the Department of Transportation, county, municipality, board, district or other public body for the condemnation of a right-of-way, and the effect of the taking of the property involved may damage or destroy an established business of more than 4 years’ standing before January 1, 2005, or the effect of the taking of the property involved may damage or destroy an established business of more than 5 years’ standing on or after January 1, 2005, owned by the party whose lands are being so taken, located upon adjoining lands owned or held by such party, the probable damages to such business which the denial of the use of the property so taken may reasonably cause; any person claiming the right to recover such special damages shall set forth in his or her written defenses the nature and extent of such damages

Thus, in order to claim business damages, the taking must be (1) by a public body for the condemnation of a right of way. It must (2) damage or destroy a business that (3) has been in existence for more than 5 years and (4) a portion of the business must be located on the remaining property.

Business owners are not eligible for business damages if it is a total taking. We have seen cases where the government will attempt to take the entire property instead of just what it needs in an effort to avoid paying business damages.

In order to make a claim for business damages, there are critical time frames that must be met. Do not delay in contacting an eminent domain attorney if you believe you will be making a claim for business damages.