There is an important law that is beneficial to flood victims called inverse condemnation, which occurs when the government takes private property for a public use without any formal process or condemnation proceeding. Homes and businesses that experienced flooding following the release of the Addicks or Barker Dam are eligible, but only those that happened at 2 a.m. on August 28th.
Government officials state that the purposeful water releases during Hurricane Harvey were necessary in order to preserve the Addicks and Barker dams from serious damage and to save storage capacity in the event of excess water. In order to claim inverse condemnation, the property owner must be able to demonstrate that the government’s actions caused the destruction and damage of their property for public use.
The law of Inverse condemnation doesn’t necessarily mean that the government did something illegal or that the dams were poorly designed or outdated. While the government may have flooded homes for a legitimate reason to the public, those property owners affected can claim an inverse condemnation action since they experienced the damages of that decision. Whenever the government causes damage to land it is legally obligated to provide just compensation to the property owner.
In typical cases, the government decides when it must take land for a public reason, then begins the process of taking the land and compensating the owner. Inverse condemnation action is that process in reverse. In an inverse condemnation, the government takes the land first, which forces the property owner to file a lawsuit in order to receive compensation.
Flood insurance is not required in cases of inverse condemnation. In some cases of those without flood insurance, inverse condemnation is the only option available to legally obtain compensation for damages.
Property owners who experience property damage due to the Addicks and Barker dam releases are entitled to compensation for any costs required to rebuild and repair that property. Also, property owners who experience any toxic contamination or chemical explosions caused by the dam release are also eligible for damage compensation.
For those who have had their home or business damaged or destroyed due to the Barker or Addicks dam releases following Hurricane Harvey, you may be entitled to compensation via inverse condemnation. For some property owners, it will be the only option available to help repair and rebuild your property. Our lawyers are available to provide additional information about your legal options in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.