So, your shipment arrived damaged (blimey!) and you have to file a claim (double blimey!). That means that you (the claimant) have the burden of proving that the carrier was responsible for the loss or damage to the shipment. In order to meet this burden of proof it might take a bit of digging and detective work on your part. So don that deerstalker cap (we all secretly want one) and get cracking because you’ve got three things you have to prove – the game is afoot!
1) The shipment was picked up in good condition
The TIA recommends the claimant submit written statements from employees directly involved in the packing of the shipment indicating what was in the shipment, pick lists, etc., and a description of the shipment at the time of tender to the carrier – pictures are also brilliant to provide, if available.
2) The shipment was delivered damaged or with pieces missing
A statement from the consignee’s facility from people with firsthand knowledge of the condition of the shipment at the time of delivery (including photos, etc) also helps to substantiate that the freight was tendered to the carrier in good order and delivered damaged. Invoices, inspections, and appraisals of damage can also be helpful to prove the amount of the claim. As with any claim, a clear description of the extent of damage on the delivery receipt is needed. However, if for some reason damage was not noted or was not clearly notated, the consignee’s statement should also include the reason why.
3) The claimed amount is correct (this includes cost or repair cost of only damaged items/boxes missing)
In the case of a shortage, the claimant is obligated to prove what was actually shipped vs what was received. A BOL could be evidence of the quantity of items received by the carrier if the driver signed for a specific quantity and was able to verify that quantity at pickup, which can be difficult to do with a shrink wrapped pallet. Again, pick lists, original purchase invoices and statements from those involved are extremely valuable, as are photos of the shipment pre and post transit.
Remember, it is best for this proof to be submitted with the original claim, reducing back-and-forth as much as possible; but if not submitted with the original claim, it should be submitted as part of a formal request to reconsider a denied loss or damage claim.
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Your Guide to Understanding the Claim Process: Part I
It’s not a particularly fun topic to study up on, but knowing the ins and out of damage and claims before it happens can help save you a lot of headache, time and potentially money down the road.