§55-5-1. Method of asserting claim.
Any defendant against whom a decree or judgment shall be
rendered for land, where no assessment of damages has been made
under the preceding article, may, at any time before the execution
of the decree or judgment, present a petition to the court
rendering such decree or judgment, stating that he or those under
whom he claims, while holding the premises under a title believed
by him or them to be good, have made permanent improvements
thereon, and praying that he may be allowed for the same the fair
and reasonable value thereof; and thereupon the court, if satisfied
of the probable truth of the allegation, shall suspend the
execution of the judgment or decree, and impanel a jury to fix and
assess the damages of the plaintiff (if any) and the value of the
improvements (if any) so made by the defendant.