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Loss & Damage Claims

  1. What is a claim?
    1. A demand in writing...
    2. For a specific amount of money...
    3. That contains sufficient information to identify the shipment...
    4. Within the time limits specified in the Bill of Lading contract.
  2. Claim Forms. Claims are usually submitted on a standard form for presentation of loss and damage.
  3. When To File Claim. Claims should be filed promptly once loss or damage is discovered. Time limit for filing is nine (9) months from date of delivery, or, in the event of non-delivery, nine (9) months after a reasonable time for delivery has elapsed. If the claim is not received by the carrier within this time, payment is barred by law.
  4. Documents Needed. 
    1. Original Invoice: Original invoice verifies that the amount of the claim does not exceed the terms of sale (value of the goods) at destination, and excludes any prospective profit. The original invoice must disclose all discounts and allowances, if any. A clear photocopy is acceptable.
    2. Repair or Replacement Invoice (if applicable): When sending a repair invoice, it should include a breakdown of hours, labor rate, and materials.
  5. Concealed Loss Or Damage. When damage is discovered after the delivery receipt is signed and the cartons are opened, it is termed concealed damage. When this occurs, the carrier should be contacted immediately to request an inspection. While awaiting inspection, the consignee must hold the shipping container and its contents in the same condition they were in when damage was discovered. The carrier will send a representative to perform the inspection or will waive inspection. The inspection report is not a claim. It is the responsibility of the claimant to file a cargo claim within the prescribed time frame and to respond to any requests from the carrier for supporting documentation. The claim will then be concluded based on facts determined during investigation.
  6. Burdens of Proof. The law requires that the claimant establish three things:
    1. The carrier received the freight in good condition at origin.
    2. The freight was short or damaged at delivery.
    3. The dollar amount of loss or damage.
  7. Paying the Freight Bill. Section 217(b) of the Interstate Commerce Act (49 U.S.C.317(b) prohibits a carrier from collecting any charges different from those published in the carrier's effective tariff. The payment of freight charges may not be postponed due to alleged loss or damage. These charges should be paid in full and the portion applicable to the lost or damaged item should be included in the freight claim.
    1. Claims and payment of freight charges are two entirely different transactions.
    2. ICC regulations prohibit withholding payment of freight bills because of a pending claim or claims.
    3. Without payment of freight charges, payment for transportation has not been made. A valid claim will not be paid until freight charges are paid.
  8. Salvage Retention. Salvage must be retained until the claim is resolved, or until the claimant is given disposition by the carrier. No salvage is to be disposed of without written authorization from the carrier.
  9. If Claim Is Declined. If the claim is declined, and the claimant feels it should have been paid, the claimant should present their rebuttal in letter form to the carrier. If claimant has additional information or evidence, it should be included. Always refer to the assigned claim number when corresponding with the claims department.

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