Damage To Trailer By Shipper - Who Is Liable?

#1
Hi All,

In a situation where a shipper damages a trailer upon loading but the consignee is the customer of the freight broker, who is liable for the damages? I believe this would be between the shipper and the trucking company hired by the broker, correct?
 

whatiship

Well-Known Member
#2
In most worlds, who ever did the damage is liable.
However trucking scenario's seem to defy logic in many cases.
The most important thing is that the damage was noticed at the time and the driver has a name of someone who admits responsibility. A picture is worth a thousand words ( or dollars some times)
Out of courtesy I would contact the actual customer who sent you in there and advise them of the situation. They may have a contact there who can assist in the process. Getting into a battle with your customer's customers never seems to end well.
Legally, since it happened on private property there is no point in contacting the police for an accident report.
All you can hope for is that the company who did the damage owns up to it and pays for the repair. However, I have seen to many cases where the forklift driver will not be very co-operative out of fear of losing his/her job.
Tough call, but your best bet is to react quickly, document every conversation and hope that the company does the right thing.
If your driver clipped a car in their parking lot, you can be sure that they would be all over you to fix it.
Good luck!
 
#3
Thanks whatiship. We have done everything you mentioned. Luckily the shipper is taking onus. The main issue I am having is my actual carrier who we have had a 5 year relationship with is coming to me off the bat stating that we owe them the money to repair. I explained to him that for one, he is jumping the gun here, let's take things step by step:
-Take pictures (done)
-Talk to the shipper and document the damages and admittance on their part (done)
-Advise our customer of the situation as there will be extra waiting time there he is liable for (done).

I explained to our carrier that it is legally a situation between the shipper and his company BUT, we are here to help and will do whatever we can to keep all parties happy. He continued to tell me I don't know anything about trucking (really nice thing to say to a customer of 5 years). At that point, not appreciating his attacks on me after my honest efforts to help, I told him to call me back once he is calmed down and has a clear head and hung up.

What I am really trying to find out from here is who really is liable on a legal standpoint. We appreciate our carriers greatly and want to continue with mutually beneficial relationships so I am wondering if this is common from a carrier standpoint that all liabilities falls on the paying parties, in this case the broker, no matter the situation? Or perhaps it is just one of those grey areas in which case this particular carrier who is assuming all liability is on us is their own terms and therefore, it is valid for us to revisit this relationship as it creates too much risk for us when using this particular carrier?
 

chica123

Site Supporter
#4
I have had a shipper poke his forks through a fibreglass roof. This means a whole new fibreglass roof to the toon of several thousand dollars. I can tell you I didn't move my truck from the shippers door until we had the shipper take photos and create an internal report noting the damage, signed by an authority of the shipper's company (not just the forklift driver). Sure accidents happen, but there are many people out there who will not take responsibility for them. I also notified the broker. All turned out well. But as loaders states, you must act that very moment and document everything...otherwise you just have to hope that the shipper is reasonable.
 

Freight Broker

Well-Known Member
#5
Between the shipper and the trucking company. The broker obviously had nothing to do with the damage so your carrier's anger is misplaced. The carrier should deal directly with the party who caused the damages. There would be no point in the broker getting in the middle of that as he/she has no insurable interest in the carrier's equipment.
 

Shakey

Site Supporter
#6
guessing your carrier has been bitten by this in past and not paid for by someone.........................you have done all you should but from another 3pl you should be kept in loop to ensure your carrier is paid.
 

AccountsReceivable@DRC

Moderator
Staff member
#7
This scenario is now between the carrier and the shipper. A mistake is a mistake...and they will need to pay for it. BUT...the broker certainly isn't off the hook here to let the other parties sort out the mess. A good broker would get involved and explain to their customer the circumstance...why they are liable...and try to assist in coming to a resolution should the matter get "heated". That is the broker's role - and so it should be - if they want to keep a good relationship with their carrier. It really should be a "2 against 1" situation here...with the broker being a little more "Switzerland" in the stand off against their customer. There are nice ways of telling someone they are at fault....

In most cases - who does the damage - pays for the damage. The issue then becomes WHEN the incident will be taken care of and actual MONIES showing up to cover it. It's been my experience when these things happen - and they aren't cleared up within a couple weeks...they never will be. "Fresh" in everyone's mind is the best way to go and stay on top of all the details.

Just my 2 cents.
 
R

ranger_dispatch

Guest
#8
Most of the times, it's the carrier that loses. We've been on both ends of it in the past and ended up losing. If the carrier is deemed at fault (no matter if it can be proved or not) broker will just deduct from the money they owe you. If the shipper or consignee is at fault then the broker usually drags their feet for weeks, because they don't want to lose their account just to make one carrier happy, because the sad reality is that its harder to find customers than carriers. From the carriers perspective, if they have provided good service for 5 years, I would expect the broker to help them to the best of their ability even going so far as to maybe split the repair 50/50 if the shipper is refusing to pay because at the end of it all, the carrier was working for the broker and not for the shipper or consignee.
 

Shakey

Site Supporter
#9
Wouldn't agree I've had to pay 15,000 to fix a wall that a carrier hit before Danny. As well have helped and ensured any carrier that has had any issues or damaged looked after to their content.

This has been hashed out so many times on this board there are Good Brokers / Good Carriers then we have the others.............................try to work with good ones and hopefully you won't be out of pocket for something that is not your fault.
 

loaders

Site Supporter
#10
As has been stated, the broker can only act as a liaison between the two parties. We have had very similar instances where a carrier has clipped a car in the shipper's parking lot and the shipper is looking to the broker (me) to cover the repairs. In both cases, although on private property, they are motor vehicles accidents and must be treated as such. If I send Purolator or Fedex to pick-up a parcel and someone at the pick-up backs into their van, would they expect me to cover their repairs? Yes, I sent them in there and yes, I will be paying the charges for the pick-up.....but repair their van, I don't think so! Take pictures, take names and dates and treat it just like it had happened out on the street.
 

lowmiler88

Site Supporter
#11
Freight Broker I disagree because you want to be involved (not monetarily) but from a perspective you could loose a customer, carrier or both if things go sideways and they can rather quickly if someone has attitude and gets the other party going. Everyone involved should by now understand that damages are going to happen and deal with it professionally but that is not always the case. We inform whoever gave us the freight and act accordingly to their direction but always keep them informed, generally we do not want a broker involved but sometimes an email to keep things on track from them is needed to inform a shipper or receiver that they are in fact responsible for the damages. Things always go smoother when everyone is on the same page.
 
#12
Most of the times, it's the carrier that loses. We've been on both ends of it in the past and ended up losing. If the carrier is deemed at fault (no matter if it can be proved or not) broker will just deduct from the money they owe you. If the shipper or consignee is at fault then the broker usually drags their feet for weeks, because they don't want to lose their account just to make one carrier happy, because the sad reality is that its harder to find customers than carriers. From the carriers perspective, if they have provided good service for 5 years, I would expect the broker to help them to the best of their ability even going so far as to maybe split the repair 50/50 if the shipper is refusing to pay because at the end of it all, the carrier was working for the broker and not for the shipper or consignee.
Danny,
I understand some of your points and being you are on the both sides of the fence certainly helps. I however feel that your point by saying "broker will just deduct money from you" paints a brush on all carriers and is not the way we do business. As stated, we value our carrier relationships and truly see them as partners, we will never deduct money and simply send over a revised dispatch without initial discussions and negotiations with our "partners".

Even if we don't agree with our "partners" final demands, no matter how unreasonable, we do agree to their terms with prejudice, meaning that we will pay the bill, but our relationship will be severed as we are not on the same level regarding our business practices. I think that is a fair statement and a fair way to do things. I also don't believe in dragging our feet when it comes to issues. The issues arise are all our issues and if all parties take some onus in helping correct them, we are all in a better place for it. My main point is a see a lot of messages on this site that pertain to YOU BROKERS or YOU CARRIERS but the bottom line is people, we are all different and have different viewpoints on how we should operate. A lot of it comes down to our personal values, goals and points of views that results in the same way our businesses operates.

As far as the suggestion to split a repair bill 50/50, it is certainly something we would entertain but again, from a business standpoint, does it make sense to put our selves at such a high risk as this sets a dangerous precedence and exceptions from our carriers where if anything does go wrong that really has nothing to do with us, they will expect at least a 50% compensation. When you measure out the risk vs. reward factor on this this particular shipment, our margin was $75. I believe you will agree that in this instance, that does not make good business sense.
 

Jim L

Active Member
#13
If we're talking about a damaged plywood panel then there is a lot of posturing here that is unnecessary. If we're talking about something to the tune of thousands of dollars to repair then that's a different ball game.

I would hope that the freight broker will get involved and try to come to some terms between the customer, the carrier and the shipper to get a resolution. If I didn't feel comfortable with what the broker is suggesting as a solution then maybe its time to get your insurance company involved. If the insurance company, or even the insurance broker, speaks to the shipping manager the shipper will be less reluctant to leave it be.

I have found that most shipping managers will come to the table with something for a resolution - especially if it is completely obvious and you're not asking for a brand new trailer. Like someone said, if the carrier damaged the shippers property you know it would be taken directly off the freight bill with no questions asked.
 

Freight Broker

Well-Known Member
#14
I'd certainly be involved to the extent of helping the carrier in dealing with the shipper . But at the end of the day its between the carrier and the shipper and it would be important for the broker to maintain impartiality. After all, the broker has no first hand knowledge of the shipper damaging the carrier's equipment.
 

Jim L

Active Member
#15
I also want to add one more item that exasperates the issues. Back in the day where the broker made more money, and the carriers also made profits, there was a lot more give and take. Sometimes it was just a cost of doing business and sometimes wasn't worth the argument because you didn't want to rock the boat.

But now with computers calculating the exact costs at which we can operate; all the margins are just being sucked away and everyone just squeaking out what they can. There is no more 'cost of doing business' or 'lets not rock the boat'. Every cost needs to be justified and pushed back on whomever will pay it. We are not making our money moving freight any more, we are merely just trying to manage costs and left trying to recuperate the costs that were not put in the computer model.
 
#16
As a broker I had this happen about a year ago...forklift driver who didn't realize how long his boom was...poked a hole in the trailer. The shipper wasn't my customer.

I advised the carrier to call his insurance company, and also to get the name of the shipper's insurance company before leaving...told him I couldn't give him any "advice" but that I would assist him in communicating with the correct parties at the shipper if it would help.

He decided it was easier to leave the shipper's facility & then hold the load ransom until I prepaid him an obviously inflated repair bill. After a few days of BS he decides he now wants to be prepaid the repair bill, freight cost AND storage!! I told him he had the night to think it over otherwise the next call he received would be from the Police. He called my bluff so I called the cops.

The cop tried valiantly (but fruitlessly) to resolve the issue without escalation...so he finally just told the carrier that if the load wasn't delivered at 8am the following morning he'd be charged with extortion.

I disagree with everyone here that thinks the broker should do his best to help out the carrier etc. Involving yourself or offering to help just sends a message that you can impact the final resolution...and unfortunately you can't! Remove yourself from the situation as soon as possible & advise both parties that you ONLY want to be notified if the resolution (or lack of) impacts your load.
 

AccountsReceivable@DRC

Moderator
Staff member
#17
I disagree with everyone here that thinks the broker should do his best to help out the carrier etc. Involving yourself or offering to help just sends a message that you can impact the final resolution...and unfortunately you can't! Remove yourself from the situation as soon as possible & advise both parties that you ONLY want to be notified if the resolution (or lack of) impacts your load.
busterknoxville,

If that is your broker viewpoint on the situation...I guarantee as a carrier - that would be the last time we'd ever haul a load for you. And I'd bet money that other carriers out there would follow suit.

There are instances where you can simply "wash your hands" of the situation - and others you simply cannot...

Staying involved till the end...well that's just good business.
 

loaders

Site Supporter
#18
By all means, a broker who finds himself in this situation, should offer whatever assistance he/she can. By this I mean, providing contact names at the shipper if he has them, but other than that, what or even why, should he get involved in a motor vehicle accident? The carrier has insurance for his equipment, the shipper has property and liability insurance for his facility, what in heavens name can the broker provide to resolve this besides providing a small amount of directional assistance to the carrier? I don't believe Busterknoxville was suggesting anyone "wash their hands", but more like, merely step aside and let the correct parties to the accident sort it out. I mean how far do you want to carry this? What if a piece of concrete falls off an overpass onto the carrier's trailer just as he's pulling into the shippers yard? Is the broker who sent him there to pick-up responsible for the damaged trailer? People....it is a motor vehicle accident, where it happens doesn't matter, even the details of how it happened doesn't change the way it should be dealt with. So unless the broker was driving the truck or operating the fork lift, or throwing the chunk of concrete, don't look to him for anything more than information.
 

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