Liability for cargo loss and damage can be managed at three distinct points. First, motor carriers should be mindful in contracting with brokers and shippers to help prevent or mitigate their exposure to claims for cargo liability. This includes carefully worded indemnity and arbitration provisions and effectively invoking a tariff to limit liability. Next, when a load is rejected by a consignee, motor carriers can take steps to manage loss. Mitigation and salvage efforts can (and should) be taken by each party to the shipping transaction, often including the cargo liability insurance adjuster. Last, after a load is rejected and a claim or suit is brought for the cargo loss, defenses are available to a motor carrier sued for cargo loss and damage. This includes defenses aimed at shifting liability to the shipper, burdens of proof at trial, and other issues that frequently arise in suits brought under the Carmack Amendment for cargo loss and damage.


Trevor Uffelman
General Counsel, Chief Claims Officer, and Corporate Secretary, American Trucking and Transportation Insurance Company