What does the Carmack Amendment do for interstate shipping?

Before the Carmack Amendment interstate shipping disputes were left to the jurisdiction of different states. This revision to the Interstate Commerce Act of 1877, provided “carriers” and “shippers” with a consistent law about handling interstate shipping. The law offers liability protections and delegates responsibilities to both “shippers” and “carriers”.


How Carmack affects shippers

A “shipper” is the person or company who is the owner of the commodities being shipped. Under the Carmack agreement, shippers do not have to provide proof of negligence to receive compensation for damaged goods. They just have to show that the damage exists.

In addition to this, however, shippers are responsible for making sure that the shipped goods were in good condition at the time that the carrier picked up the shipment. Unlike before, shippers can only receive compensation for the goods, and cannot seek damages beyond the value of the tarnished goods.

How Carmack affects carriers

A “carrier” is a company that owns vehicles used to transport goods. As previously mentioned, the Carmack Amendment benefitted carriers by limiting their liability. Previously, depending on the state, a carrier could have been liable for claims beyond the value of the goods they were carrying.

Under the Amendment, carriers may also be exempt from liability of damaged goods in special cases. These include:

  • Acts of God, such as hurricanes and earthquakes
  • Burglars
  • Inherent vice or inherent risks associated with the good—e.g. flammability.

Handling disputes

Although the Carmack Amendment establishes uniform regulation for interstate shipping, disputes can still arise between shippers and carriers.

Whether you are a shipper or a carrier, contacting a transportation law attorney can help you understand your rights during these disputes.

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