The transportation and shipping industry is big business, but it can seem enormously complicated, especially when dealing with interstate the transport of goods. To avoid the confusion of various state laws applying to this interstate transport, the federal government enacted the Carmack Amendment in 1906. This federal law now applies to all goods that are transported across state lines, which means that you need to know about it and how it might apply to your situation.
The basics of the Carmack Amendment
Under the Carmack Amendment, a carrier can be held liable for the damage of goods that it takes into its possession, even without any proof of negligence on the carrier’s part. This puts the burden on a carrier to show that it wasn’t negligent or that the goods were damages by an some exception to Carmack’s liability provision, such as an act of God or some act taken by the shipper.
Limiting liability under the Carmack Amendment
Of course, if you’re in the transportation industry, then you want to limit your liability as much as possible. One way to do so is to impose a fee or tariff on the goods being shipped based on some characteristic of the goods in question, such as its weight, or the distance that you’ll be traveling to deliver those goods. This may result in a lower shipping rate, but it can protect you from liability.
Another option is to simply negotiate a contract that works for you and your business. Any contractual provisions that are created can replace the provisions of the Carmack Amendment that would otherwise be applicable.
Know how to protect your interests
There’s a lot that can go into a transportation contract and conflict can arise in transportation dealings, with or without a contract. To protect yourself and your business as fully as possible, you need to know the law and how to utilize it to your advantage, as well as how to negotiate favorable agreements. If you think that you could benefit from assistance in this arena, then consider discussing your circumstances with an attorney who is experienced in this area of the law.