Whether someone orders shoes online or ships tons of industrial equipment, one common problem can happen: the freight can become lost or damaged. The process for finding out who is responsible for damaged freight could take months, and discovering whether freight had been stolen or lost on route can be difficult. Shippers will never be able prevent all instances of lost or stolen cargo, but they can at least ensure that they are compensated for their loss and informed on the details to try and prevent future instances.
What is the most important rule of receiving freight? Do not sign the Bill of Lading before checking your load for damage, concealed damage or missing parts.
Let’s walk through this step-by-step to determine the proper course of action when something goes wrong with your freight.
1) Take a close look at delivered freight and inspect all details. Pay attention to every part or item; open crates if needed – there could be concealed damages. Determine what exactly is stolen, missing or damaged. Don’t be intimidated by the driver, who can claim he or she is in a hurry for the next route – you have a right to record all details necessary.
2) Write everything down and take photos, if possible. The more documentation, the better. Make notes of damages and shortages on the Bill of Lading and make sure the carrier is aware of the situation as soon as possible. Don’t underestimate the importance of communication and cooperation; carriers can try to salvage, re-deliver or return the freight if damage or shortage statement was passed on quickly enough.
3) Do not refuse a shipment and never discard damaged freight. If shippers get rid of the freight, they may not be paid the full freight claim amount. So keep all freight and packages intact if possible.
4) Fill out the proper freight claim, shipping claim, cargo claim or transportation claim paperwork. It is a legal request to a carrier for financial reimbursement on damaged or lost freight. The freight claim is created to recover costs for the shipper, but not the profit, only the difference between the original value and the damaged value. So, the shipper must determine a reasonable dollar amount for the claim – it is the shipper’s legal obligation to minimize the cost of claim.
The carrier must acknowledge a claim within 30 days of initial filling. Concealed damages and shortages should be reported to the carrier within 10-15 days of receipt of the load.
5) Pay the freight bill as soon as possible. The shipper is still responsible for payment of goods’ transportation, even if there are damaged, lost or stolen freight. The claim will be processed by an insurance company.
6) Keep all necessary documents:
- A copy of the bill of lading
- A copy of the freight bill (paid)
- A copy of the invoice showing the amount paid for the goods
- A copy of the packing slip
- A standard claim form or a letter identifying the shipment and the claim amount
- Photos of the damage
While it seems quite fair to get compensation for damaged or lost freight, it is more important to gather as much information and evidence as possible to avoid further improper load handling. Having an expert who can manage all of a shipper’s claims and paperwork is a great option to save money, time and peace-of-mind. Partnering with a 3PL, like PLS Logistics Services, eliminates the hassle of dealing with lost or stolen goods. We make sure your shipment is delivered on time, every time.