If you own a warehouse, then there’s a good chance that you have hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions of dollars worth of inventory in your stores. This can be risky, especially when things go sideways and that cargo ends up damaged. This can occur in a number of ways, including through fire, flood, and theft. If you’re insured, then you might think that you’re covered from all types of losses, but the truth of the matter is that there are probably some exclusions that may leave you susceptible to liability.
Know what your insurance covers
To start, you should have a clear understanding of what your policy covers. In most instances, major perils such as fires will be covered, but your policy might be subjected to a number of exclusions. Amongst them could be mold, damage caused by insects and vermin, deterioration, and even scratching and marring. Even though the person who owns the cargo may have their own insurance coverage, they can turn to you to try to recover any remaining losses if their cargo has been damaged or lost and their insurance doesn’t cover the full extent of the loss. So, if your insurance falls short, your business could be liable.
How to defend yourself against claims of loss
If you don’t have warehouse insurance or your insurance has a gap that doesn’t address the issue at hand, then you’ll need to be prepared to defend yourself in the legal arena. Generally speaking, in order to recover damages, the owner of the goods in question must show that you failed to exercise due care over those possessions. Typically, this means that in order to be successful on a claim the owner of the goods must show that a reasonably careful person under the circumstances would have exercised a higher level of care than you did.
So how do you defend yourself? To start, you should carefully analyze the exact cause of the damage. If it was something outside of your control, then you may be able to escape liability. If the cause was something within your control, then gather evidence that demonstrates the lengths you went to in order to ensure that the cargo within your possession was protected. This may mean gathering invoices for things like pest control and security implementation, as well as communications with parties who were involved in the storing and damaging of the goods in question.
In settlement in your best interests?
If the evidence is stacked against you, then you might want to consider settling your claim. By doing so, you might be able to avoid the full cost of a litigated case, which would also allow you to get back to your business operations as quickly as possible. Before doing so, though, you’ll need to take a lot of factors into consideration. For example, what does the evidence look like and what is the other side willing to accept? Sometimes there isn’t much difference between settling and risking it all at trial. In those situations, it might be best to take your shot at trial to see if you can escape liability altogether.
Do you need help navigating the legal complexities?
Warehouse liability and other transportation legal issues can be highly complex. After all, this is a very niche area of the law that very few people understand. Fortunately for you, though, there are law firms that are highly devoted to and knowledgeable in this area of the law. We’re one of them. So, if you think that you could benefit from legal assistance dealing with your warehouse liability issue, then now may be the time to reach out to a legal team that you think will aggressively defend your interests.