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Claim Filing Requirements

The requirements to file claims for loss, damage and delay are normally set forth in motor carriers’ tariff rules and are patterned on the government’s regulations in 49  C.F.R. § 370. A slightly different version of these regulations may be found in the National Motor Freight Classification 100 series, items 300100-300203.

Claim Requirements

Claims must be filed in writing, demand payment, identify the shipment sufficiently to enable the carrier to conduct an investigation, and make a claim for the payment of a “specified or determinable amount of money.” The minimum filing requirements necessary to substantiate a claim are as follows:

49 C.F.R. §370.3

(b) Minimum filing requirements. A written or electronic communication (when agreed to by the carrier and shipper or receiver involved) from a claimant, filed with a proper carrier within the time limits specified in the bill of lading or contract of carriage or transportation and:

(1) Containing facts sufficient to identify the baggage or shipment(s) of property,

(2) Asserting liability for alleged loss, damage, injury, or delay, and

(3) Making claim for the payment of a specified or determinable amount of money, shall be considered as sufficient compliance with the provisions for filing claims embraced in the bill of lading or other contract of carriage; provided, however, that where claims are electronically handled, procedures are established to ensure reasonable carrier access to supporting documents.

(c) Documents not constituting claims. Bad order reports, appraisal reports of damage, notation of shortage or damage, or both, on freight bills, delivery receipts, or other documents, or inspection reports issued by carriers or their inspection agencies, whether the extent of loss or damage is indicated in dollars and cents or otherwise, shall, standing alone, not be considered by carriers as sufficient to comply with the minimum claim filing requirements specified in paragraph (b) of this section.

When to File a Claim

Claims should be filed promptly once loss or damage is discovered. In the United States the time limit for filing may not be less than nine (9) months from date of delivery, or, in the event of non-delivery, no less than nine (9) months after a reasonable time for delivery has elapsed. If the claim is not received by the carrier within this time, it legally expires and will be declined. A claimant generally has a duty to mitigate damages under the Carmack amendment and common law principles.

Filing the Claim with Appropriate Carrier

The language of the Carmack amendment states that all carriers who receive, transport, or deliver the shipment are responsible for paying the claim. 49 U.S.C. § 14706 (a)(1). England Logistics, Inc. is willing to act as a customer’s agent for the purpose of filing and prosecuting all claims against supporting carriers for loss or damage to shipments within the scope of the services provided by England Logistics.

Documents Needed

Original invoice: Original invoice verifies that the amount of the claim doesn’t exceed the terms of the sale (value of the goods) at destination and exclude any prospective profit. The original invoice must disclose all discounts and allowances, if any. A clear photocopy is acceptable.

Repair or replacement invoice (if applicable): When sending a repair invoice, it should include a breakdown of hours, labor rate and materials.

Concealed Loss or Damage

Concealed damage occurs when a consignee signs for freight without noting any damage upon delivery, but later when the item is opened the receiver finds that the product was in fact damaged during shipping. Those receiving shipments need to be timely and diligent when it comes to inspecting products and notifying carriers of concealed damage as soon as possible. The National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) requires all concealed damage to be reported to the carrier within five (5) business days of delivery. Anything more may result in the carrier declining the claim.

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 lost or damaged at delivery.
  3. The dollar amount of loss or damage.

A carrier’s claim defense to a claimant’s cause of action is limited to five (5) common law exceptions to liability:

  1. An act of God.
  2. An inherent nature or vice of the goods.
  3. An act of the shipper.
  4. An act of the public enemy.
  5. The authority of law.

If a Claim is Declined

If the claim is declined and the claimant feels it should have been paid, claimant should present a rebuttal letter to the carrier. Additional information or evidence should be included.

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