LTL Freight Claims: Refused Damage Claims

It is important to keep in mind that each claim is different and involves different circumstances, so not all of the below information will apply for every claim. Typically, the payer of the freight can only be reimbursed for the freight charges, so they are usually the ones to file a claim. Anyone can file a claim, however, but this is usually the simplest way to do it.

If the item was noted as damaged and refused, someone will first need to take possession of the freight. The carrier will typically only store the refused items for 15 days at the terminal until they begin to charge storage fees. If warranted, it is typically during this time that the carrier will have an inspection done by an independent third party. This third party, or inspector, will mainly be looking for the extent of the damage, what type of damage, and as to why/how it occurred (i.e. was packaging sufficient).

After it is completed, someone qualified to make an assessment will need to do so in order to estimate the actual damage and repair cost, since it is the claimant's responsibility to mitigate a claim to the lesser of the repair value or replacement value. If this is not done the carrier will deny the claim based on their inspection and mitigation to the repair amount. If it costs less to repair than replace, you can have the repairs performed and amend or file the claim amount to reflect actual repair costs.

The party that can repair the units typically should accept the shipment, and this is usually the manufacturer. The carrier will often take it back free astray to the manufacturer, too, so they can assess the repairs/damage. If the manufacturer has someone they can send on site to assess damages and make the repairs in the field, then it might not have to go back, but rather could be delivered back to the consignee. Whichever way is most cost effective.

Something else to consider when deciding where or to whom the damaged item(s) will go to while the claim is being resolved is storage. The item(s) should not be thrown away until the claim is resolved. If the carrier offers a settlement it could be contingent upon them picking up the damaged item for salvage, since it is the claimant’s responsibility to mitigate the claim and this helps them recoup some of the costs associated with a settlement payment.

Make sure to fill out a claim form, usually available on a carrier's website, and submit it along with proper documentation to the carrier within the nine month allotted time frame for filing noted damages. Do not let the lack of a document prevent you from filing a claim within the filing deadline. You can always submit additional paperwork after the initial claim filing and amend the claim as necessary.

A carrier has up to 120 days to notify you of their decision on a claim, and even longer in some cases depending on the nature of the claim. Typically, you will hear from them within 30 -45 days with their initial decision. Once you receive the carriers decision, if you aren't satisfied you may appeal the decision in writing.

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