Transportation Liability – Busting the Most Common Myths

Oh sure there are protections such the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act. But don’t make mistakes, as this doesn’t magically eliminate all responsibility from the shipper. You are still responsible for the safe transport of the cargo, even if aliens mistake your truck’s headlights for a landing strip.


Oh sure they have responsibility up to a certain point. They might even be in  contractually obligation to take the transportation liability and payout the customer. But then they will get their money from the carrier, if the carrier was found to be at fault.


This is where the lawyers come in. They will argue and debate transportation liability until the aliens go home, but in the end someone will pay. The worst part is that whoever ends up with the check will also have to cover court cost and all the other associated fees.


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So whatever you do, make sure you have the best insurance you can afford. Only deal with reputable clients and/or businesses, whenever possible. And make sure you know what’s in the contracts you sign. The fine print could be the do or die of any business!

Transportation Liability Myth #6: “I Am Free From Liability by Using Independent Drivers”

Transportation liability doesn’t end because the driver isn’t actually a direct employee. Sometimes that could actually add more transportation liability that if you just hired drivers directly.


Independents are great and they often have more experience than you’ll get from the truck driving school. After all, someone who just got their CDL won’t be as experienced driver as someone who has been driving for years (obviously).

There are pros and cons to both. But the one that carriers often think is true is regarding transportation liability. They think that since the driver doesn’t actually work for them they are free from any liability that associates with them.

However, they are operating under your name, or for your company, at least. They represent you for the duration of either their trip or their contract with you.


They might not be physically in your truck, perhaps they don’t wear your uniform, but in the eyes of the public they are every bit an extension of your business.

So in the event of the lost mattresses and damaged spaceship, who do you think they will look at: the customer, the broker, perhaps the driver?

All three will obviously spend a little time under the microscope, but the transportation liability falls on the shoulders of the business whose responsibility it was to safety deliver the freight.


So perhaps you lawyer will fight with the other lawyers. They will thumb wrestle and determine who ultimately has the transportation liability. But there are more than mere monetary losses. Would you what to be known as the carrier who made first contact, using the bumper of their Kenworth?

Transportation Liability Myth #7: “All Transportation Rules Are the Same, So No Worries There”

Just like the writing rules don’t apply equally when writing resumes neither do transportation rules apply equally in regards to transportation liability!


Many shippers expand operations across the globe, and might not even be aware of the differences in applicable laws and treaties. Transportation liability changes on a daily bases, almost! Liability issues and statuses are changing as soon as a shipment crosses international borders!

In our country, motor carriers ordinarily impose liability limits of 50 cents per pound per article through their service conditions on domestic ex-air moves.


When it comes to international ex-air shipments, the applicable international treaty limitation is normally expand for  inland. The treaty limitation set forth in the Montreal Convention (applicable to most industrial nations) is 19 Special Drawing Rights, which is about $12 per pound per article.

Many international laws such as the Carriers of Goods by Sea Act, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, The Hague Convention, and the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (the Vienna Convention)will govern the liabilities for a particular shipment only.


That’s why for, the shippers that operate internationally should stay in touch with their insurance company and provide adequate coverage for the goods in transit.

It’s critical for shippers to select good carrier partners, forwarder, and broker by vetting them for safety record, financial health, insurance coverage, security, communication, and the ability to educate. It is vital to have international legal and insurance expertise.


I know it’s hard to know all the answers up front, but it’s good to know at least the question that you need to ask about transportation liability and protections throughout the supply chain.


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Because, after all, you need to start from somewhere right? And a good start will be to start asking questions and look for the right answers! You need a full engagement in the process in order to  be successful!

Transportation Liability Myth #8: “Everything I Read on the Internet is Based in Fact,” -Abraham Lincoln

As much as I hope you find some useful information in this article, remember I am not an attorney. You wouldn’t rely on a gas station cashier to find the best truck tire. You shouldn’t rely on an internet blog for as your sole source of advice.


There are so many opinions, blogs, articles, YouTube videos, “how to” books, tarot card readers, psychics, and even a few knowledgeable people on the internet sharing their wisdom with you! It can be hard to choose what to believe.

But believe me, when it comes to transportation liability you need to research.

This isn’t like choosing which trucker movie to watch or which GPS is best! This is even more serious than finding the right tracking tools and programs or fuel anti- theft solution and anti-siphoning system.



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