How Carmack Amendment makes Bill of Lading more important than ever

If a carrier is sued for damage to or loss of cargo, what laws are being used as the basis of the claim? The Carmack Amendment is the most common uniform code of law regulating the freight industry that is applied in liability cases involving breach of contract, fraud, and negligence.

The Most Important Document: The majority of claims raise issue with one particular exemption of liability, an act of the shipper. Claims often indicate that cargo was packaged improperly or loaded poorly. In such cases, the Bill of Lading becomes the most important document. Bill of Lading Act, 49 USC 80113 states that a carrier is not liable for cargo loss or damage in the following cases:

Goods are loaded by shipper;

Bill of Lading notes shipper’s weight, load and count;

Carrier does not know if received goods conformed to Bill of Lading’s description.

But what does this mean? It means that a carrier is not responsible for damages that result from a shipper improperly loading cargo when a Bill of Lading clearly states the parameters of “shipper’s weight, load and count”.

Load and count are critical because shortages and theft of cargo of high value goods are some of the most troublesome issues. Freight companies can protect themselves by paying careful attention to the wording of their Bill of Lading. Taking care to properly use the provision of “shipper load and count” can minimize liability exposure, especially where high-value cargo is concerned.

Freight companies engaged in interstate commerce can operate with greater confidence, knowing that, regardless of crossing state lines, there is only a single code of law to comply with. For more information on developing the best risk management strategies for your company, partner with experts in the freight broker industry. Rely on the most up-to-date and relevant resources to stay informed and protect your business interests.