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What is the Carmack Amendment?

On Behalf of | Jan 2, 2024 | Transportation Law |

Many California transportation companies or carriers are in the business of shipping their clients’ goods across state lines. However, things do not always go as planned during the shipment process, resulting in damaged or lost property.

Generally, the client or shipper could hold the company liable for the damages they incurred by establishing that the transportation company’s negligence caused their goods to be damaged or lost. However, under the Carmack Amendment, a federal law applicable to interstate shipments, the company will be held strictly liable for goods damaged or lost during transit, unless the company can prove that it was not negligent.

How can a transportation company prove it was not negligent?

There are a few ways a transportation company to prove it was not responsible for the damaged or lost goods. The company may allege:

  • An act of God (e.g., tornado or earthquake) caused the damage/loss
  • Actions of the shipper were negligent
  • Shipped product itself was unstable

How can I recover compensation for the loss or damage to my shipment?

The carrier must give you at least nine months from the delivery date or reasonable date for delivery (if delivery did not occur) to file a claim with your carrier. The carrier will then have 30 days to acknowledge it has received your claim and 120 days from receiving your claim to pay or settle your claim.

The carrier may also set the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit to recover damages, in the event of claim denial. The time may not be limited to less than two years. This means that if the carrier denies your claim, you will have two years from the date you were notified of the denial in writing.