The Interstate Commerce Act was established in 1887 to deal with the rise of the railroads and the growth of cross country travel and freight delivery. The intent was to regulate interstate transportation.
In 1906, the Carmack Amendment was added to the Interstate Commerce Act which was enacted by Congress to establish uniform federal guidelines for shipping across state lines. These guidelines were designed to reduce confusion surrounding a carrier’s liability when there was damage to a shipper’s interstate shipment.
The Carmack Amendment establishes the limits of liability for the carriers. The liability imposed is for the “actual loss or injury to the property”. There are no caps on liability the carrier assumes through the Carmack Amendment. Therefor, when the carrier takes possession of the cargo they become 100% liable for the load.
The carrier and the shipper sign a contract named a “bill of lading”. The Carmack Amendment allows some carriers to limit their liability in this contract. The amount they assume for cargo damage can vary, but it’s generally around $1 Per Lb.
The Carmack Amendment supersedes individual state laws and ensures that all parties are treated with one set of rules. This also means that any state law claims can be dismissed, as the Carmack Amendment takes precedence.
There is a protocol for filing claims under the Carmack Amendment. In order to bring a lawsuit, a written claim must be filed with the carrier within nine months of the date of the delivery of the property. If no delivery was made, then the claim needs to be filed within nine months after a reasonable time for delivery has passed.
Feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have about the Carmack Amendment, freight carrier insurance or other shipping related issues. It’s our specialty and we’re happy to help.