How to Handle Lost or Damaged Freight


In one way or another, shipping is a major part of everyone’s life. There are various types of shipping, for different purposes, but one thing all types of shipping have in common is the fact that lost or damaged freight is a common and inevitable occurrence. In these instances, determining who is responsible for damaged freight (or whether it was stolen or lost) is a lengthy and difficult process.

Although shippers will never be able to prevent all instances of stolen, lost or damaged cargo, they can however, at the very least take measures to avoid future instances and make sure they are compensated for their loss. What is the best way to handle lost or damaged freight? Millennium Logistics Management suggests the following:


  • One of the first things you want to do is make sure you assess the delivered freight and inspect all details. This is the best time to take inventory; is anything missing, damaged or stolen? Pay close attention every part or item. In fact, open crates if needed because there could be damages that are not obvious or may be concealed.


  • Make note of everything! You have a right to record all details necessary therefore, write everything down and take photos (if possible). Make notes of damages and shortages on the Bill of Landing and communicate any issues to the carrier immediately as carriers are generally willing to cooperate and will either try to return, re-deliver or redeem damaged freight.


  • Never dispose of damaged freight or refuse shipments. It is important to keep all freight and packages intact because if you get rid of the freight, you may not get paid for the full claim amount.


  • To submit a legal request to the carrier for financial reimbursement on lost or damaged freight, it is necessary to complete the proper paperwork. Therefore, make sure to fill out the proper freight claim, shipping claim, transportation claim or cargo claim forms. Freight claims are created to recover costs for the shipper (only the difference between the original value and the damaged value); it is the shipper’s legal obligation to minimize the cost of the claim and they are responsible to determine a reasonable dollar amount for the claim. Carriers are required to acknowledge claims within 30 days of the initial filing.


  • Claims are processed by insurance companies however, the shipper is still responsible for payment of the transportation of goods (even if they are lost, damaged or stolen freight). Nonetheless, the freight bill should be paid as soon as possible.


  • Retain all documents at all times! This includes: Photos of the damage, a copy of the packing slip, a copy of the bill of landing, a copy of the paid freight bill, a copy of the invoice showing the amount paid for the goods and a standard claim form (or letter) identifying the shipment and the claim amount.


The most important rule of receiving freight is to not sign the Bill of Landing before checking your load for damage or missing parts. It is imperative to gather as much information/evidence as possible to receive fair compensation and avoid further improper load handling.

Working with a logistics management expert, such as Millennium Logistics Management, is a fantastic way to not only save money but also gain time and peace of mind. Millennium Logistics Management has been providing corporations with the logistical expertise, guidance and solutions to establish programs that produce major savings. Find out how Millennium Logistics Management can help you!



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