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or freight bill, the carrier may require a bond, or indemnity agreement in lieu thereof, protecting itself against any loss that might result from the improper payment of a claim.
Time in Which to File Claims: Claims for loss or damage should be filed with the carrier as soon as practicable after the amount at issue has been ascertained. When the preparation of a claim is liable to require an unusual period of time, it is advisable for the claimant to give the carrier advance notice of his intention to file the claim, giving specific reference to the shipment in question. In this connection, the following extract from Section 3 of the Uniform Bill of Lading is quoted:
"Except where the loss, damage, or injury complained of is due to delay or damage while being loaded or unloaded, or damaged in transit by carelessness or negligence as conditions precedent to recovery, claims must be made in writing to the originating or delivering carrier within six months after delivery of the property (or, in case of export traffic, within nine months after delivery at port of export) or in case of failure to make delivery, then within six months (or nine months in case of export traffic) after a reasonable time for delivery has elapsed. Suits for loss, damage or delay shall be instituted only within two years and one day after delivery of the property, or in case of failure to make delivery, then within two years and one day after a reasonable time for delivery has elapsed; provided, however, that when claims for loss, damage or delay have been duly filed with the carrier and such claims have not been definitely declined in writing by the carrier before the beginning of the last six months of the two years and one day period, then suit thereon may be filed within six months from the date the claims are definitely declined in writing by the carrier but not after. When claims for loss, damage or delay are not filed, or suits are not instituted thereon in accordance with the foregoing provisions, the carriers will not be liable and such claims will not be paid."
Principal Classes of Claims: The principal classes of claims may be designated as:
Övercharge in rate, overcharge in weight, known loss, concealed loss, known damage, concealed damage, loss or damage by delay.
Claim for overcharge should be filed by shipper or consignee with the carrier's agent who collected the charges. When so done, immediate correction of charges can often be made by the agent.
Claim for loss or damage may be filed with either initial or destination carrier; when filed with the latter, adjustment will usually be expedited if submitted to the agent who made delivery of the shipment, in order that it may reach the adjusting office with such records and information as have direct bearing upon the question of responsibility to be determined. When claim is not filed with the carrier's agent, it should be forwarded direct to its freight claim agent.
Overcharge Claims: Overcharges are due to the application of rates in excess of published tariffs, improper classification of freight, excessive weights, or to the assessment of charges, the absorption of which by the carrier, is provided in tariffs. An essential feature of the prompt adjustment of claims of this class is the submittal by claimant of full information evidencing the overcharge.
The laws governing intrastate and interstate transportation of freight make it unlawful for a carrier to exact, or a shipper or consignee to pay, any greater or less charge for the transportation of freight, or for any other service performed by the carrier, than that published in tariffs lawfully filed with State Commissions or Interstate Commerce Commission, and also makes it unlawful for a shipper to misdescribe a shipment in order to obtain a lower charge than would be made if the shipment were correctly described.
Under the law, the carrier and shipper or receiver are equally bound by the provisions of state and interstate acts to know the lawful rates and to see that charges are assessed in accordance therewith.
Overcharge in Rate: Claims for overcharge in rate should be presented on standard form approved by the Interstate Commerce Commission, giving reference to the particular tariff upon which claim is based, and supported by the following documents:
Original bill of lading (if shipment was prepaid or misrouted). Original paid freight bill.
Overcharge in Weight: As in the case of overcharge or undercharge in rate, it is the lawful duty of the carrier or
shipper or consignee to require an adjustment of the charges to the basis of the proper weight of the shipment. Claim for overcharge in weight should be supported by the following documents: Original or certified copy of bill of lading, original paid freight bill, certificate of weight, invoice or other conclusive evidence of weight claimed.
Interst on Overcharge Claims: In the matter of interest upon overcharge claims, i. e., amount collected on a shipment in excess of the legally published rate, it is held by the Interstate Commerce Commission that a claimant may accept in satisfaction of his claim the ascertained amount of an overcharge without interest; and that when refund is made by the carrier within thirty days after the improper collection of the overcharge, interest should not accrue.
The filing of overcharge claims by consignees can frequently be avoided by familiarity with tariffs and classifications governing the commodities they usually receive, and requiring correction in rates or weights before or at the time of paying charges.
Reparation Claims: A claim for reparation is made when the rate paid on a shipment, although applicable according to legally published tariffs, is considered unjust or unreasonable in comparison with a lower rate subsequently published, the claim being for the difference between the charges paid and the charges computed on the reduced rate.
Claims for reparation require the same supporting documents as overcharge claims, which are made for amounts paid in excess of published rates.
Known Loss: A "known loss" is understood to refer to any freight which the carrier fails to deliver to the consignee, whether due to its destruction, disappearance, conversion or becoming so damaged by carrier as to render it valueless to the consignee.
A claim for a known loss should be supported by the following documents: Original bill of lading (if not previously surrendered to carrier). Original destination freight bill (if issued), original or certified copy of invoice, showing all terms of purchase.
The settlement of a claim for loss of an entire shipment or part of a shipment, is facilitated by the consignee requesting the carrier's agent to acknowledge the shortage by
endorsement on the original paid freight bill at the time of delivery. Carriers will not recognize notations unless made and signed by their agent or his authorized representative.
Should the articles short be received from any source after claim for loss has been filed with carrier, or after their value has been charged back to the shipper, advice of the fact should be duly given the carrier.
When packages bear external evidence of having been pilfered at the time delivery is tendered by the carrier, a joint inspection of contents by representatives of consignee and carrier should be held and the exact amount of shortage, if any, ascertained.
Notice of Destruction of Freight: In case of loss of goods due to destruction by wreck, fire, flood, or other casualty, it is the duty of the carrier to immediately advise the shipper or consignee, in order that the shipment may be duplicated, if desired, and claim made for its value.
Shortage Discovered by Consignee: Shortages discovered by consignee when unloading freight from car, a representative of carrier not being present, should be immediately reported to the carrier's agent, in order that opportunity may be given the carrier to verify the loss, except that if the shipment was loaded and tallied by the shipper and the car reached the consignee under initial seal security, the consignee should also report the shortage to the shipper.
Concealed Loss: A "concealed loss" is understood to mean a loss that is not evident at time of delivery by the carrier, but is discovered by the consignee upon opening the package and checking the contents, as in the case of a consignment of shoes, the containers of which appear intact and in good order when received by the consignee, but upon unpacking a less quantity of shoes than invoiced is found.
A concealed loss should be reported to the agent of the delivering carrier immediately upon discovery, if the appearance of package or its contents indicates that the missing goods were packed therein, and every opportunity should be afforded the carrier to make a thorough inspection.
A claim for a concealed loss should be supported by the following documents:
Original bill of lading (if not previously surrendered to carrier). Original destination freight bill. Original or certi
fied copy of invoice, showing all terms of purchase. Correspondence with shipper or carrier regarding loss, if any. Concealed loss form or copy of inspector's report.
Causes of Concealed Loss: In view of the opportunities for error in packing, or abstraction of goods by truckmen or others before or after transportation, the carriers are naturally reluctant to allow claims of this character, unless evidence of theft in transit is reasonably clear. Errors in packing are often discoverable by the undisturbed appearance of goods, container packed to full capacity, or by the order in which articles invoiced were placed in the container. Abstraction from container is often indicated by disturbance of fastenings or by a disordered condition of
When packages remain in possession of truckmen over night, or when the packages remain in store an unusual period of time before they are opened and shortage discovered, the possibility of loss occurring during such time should be thoroughly investigated before demand is made upon the carrier.
Affidavits submitted to carriers in support of claims of this class should be made by a person who is conversant with the facts set forth. An affidavit based on information and belief is practically of no value, and is liable to be so regarded by the carrier. Affidavit should consist solely of statements of known facts and not contain conclusions.
Known Damage: A "known damage" is understood to mean a damage that is apparent and acknowledged by the carrier at the time shipment is tendered to consignee.
In order that questions relating to the cause, or extent, of damages may not arise after claim has been filed with the carrier, a careful inspection of the shipment should be made at the time of delivery and a specific notation of the damage made on the original paid freight receipt, which should be signed by the carrier's agent or his authorized representative. Should the commodity or the damage be of such nature that the extent of damage cannot be fully ascertained until the shipment is unpacked by the consignee, request should be made upon the carrier's agent for special examination. Observance of this rule will materially facilitate the settlement of the claim.