Hiring Drivers: A Critical Decision for any Trucking Company

Kevin Anderson Employment and Labor, Transportation

If you own, operate, manage, or run a trucking company there are probably a million things running through your mind and on your to-do list at any given time. And we are about to add another thing to that list. No doubt you are preoccupied with filling orders, keeping customers happy, and ensuring your company continues to grow, but do not overlook a critical element to your company’s success: the people who work for you. Every company wants to have the very best working for them, and this is particularly true for trucking companies because of the exposure they face on a daily basis. When you hire a driver to go on the road, with your name on your truck, they act as an ambassador for your brand, and nearly all their actions while behind the wheel are tied to your company’s growth and profitability. This is why hiring is …

The Carmack Amendment and a Clean Bill of Lading

Kevin Anderson Bills of Lading, Cargo Liability, Transportation

For those involved in the trucking industry, it is only a matter of time before a shipper makes a claim for lost, stolen, or damaged cargo. When that happens the claim comes under the provisions of the Carmack Amendment, as long as the goods were shipped interstate. This federal policy is a national policy with established rules that should determine what the rights and obligations of the shipper and carrier are in any given situation. The federal policy of liability for truckers is important for predictability and certainty in the industry, and it has several elements to it that must be met before a claim can go forward. In a recent case from Ohio, a federal court dealt with a trucking company and the claimed loss of tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment due to damage in the course of its transportation. Proof of Condition in the Goods …

A Primer on Damages and the Carmack Amendment

Kevin Anderson Cargo Liability, Transportation

For those involved in the trucking industry, there is always a chance that the goods being transported could be lost, damaged, or stolen while in transit from point A to point B. And when those goods are being transported from one state to another, some may ask which state law should apply to resolve the issue. But thanks to a national policy, there is no need to ask that question. That national policy that provides for what happens when trucking goods are lost, damaged, or stolen is known as the Carmack Amendment. It is a federal law, codified at 49 U.S. Code § 14706, and since its enactment it has provided the trucking and transportation industry with stability and predictability when it comes to mitigating the loss that inevitably happens over the road. But even this national policy can have some variations from one area of the country to another. …

A Driver’s Health can Endanger a Trucking Company’s Fiscal Health

Kevin Anderson Employment and Labor, Transportation

With the economy continuing to tick upwards, companies across the country are finding it difficult to hire good help. This has led to increased wages, competition, and loss of employees to rival companies. In the end it drives companies to hire anyone able to do a job, and possibly disregard some red flags, such as driver health and safety. This risk is never worth it. There are few things worse in business than informing a customer that your company is unable to take on a job because of being short of help. This is why companies go to such great lengths to ensure that they are staffed appropriately, because it helps to ensure customers will return. And as most business professionals know, after losing a customer it is very difficult to get them back. Skip the Risks In a case from the Midwest, the victim of an accident with a …

Elements of Basic Carmack Amendment Case in Federal Court

Kevin Anderson Cargo Liability, Transportation

The Carmack Amendment is a federal law that establishes a uniform policy of liability for lost, damaged, and stolen goods shipped from one state to or through another. But before a case can proceed to trial, or before a shipper can make a claim under the Carmack Amendment, the shipper must first show a basic case, or as it is known in the law, a prima facie case. Once a basic case is shown, it usually goes to trial or is settled out of court. The elements of a basic Carmack Amendment case are established by two sources of law. The original and most authoritative source comes from the federal code. And the Carmack Amendment is codified in 49 U.S. Code § 14706. But federal statutes are not the only source of rules and regulations on the Carmack Amendment because there are too many provisions that need to be interpreted …

In Case of Emergency: FMCSA’s Ability to Suspend Regulations

Kevin Anderson Regulations, Transportation

This fall has brought with it two devastating storms that ravaged a large part of the continental United States. Many of us watched the massive Hurricane Harvey dump feet of rain on the Houston, Texas area. As if this storm was not enough, it was followed by a category five hurricane, the biggest ever recorded in the Atlantic, which pummeled Florida. Both storms did much to destroy everything in their path, and leave the people who live there to rebuild their lives. Because of the tremendous destructive power of the storms, people left behind and those who fled require emergency supplies like food, water, and shelter. Of course our system of transportation revolves around moving goods by truck, so it makes sense that trucks and truckers would provide much of the much needed relief supplies to those affected by the storms. FMCSA Authority to Suspend Rules In order to expedite …

Subcontractor Causes Troubles for Motor Carrier

Kevin Anderson Cargo Liability, Contracts, Transportation

The old adage of you are only as strong as your weakest link holds true with the link of different players that are typically involved in shipping goods from one state to another. Because of these complex relations, one breakdown with one or more of the players can put a company at risk, and cause severe damage to reputations, bottom lines, and company survival. This was the lesson learned as a trucking company lost an entire truckload of lobster recently. A news report from Massachusetts explains that a trucking company is being sued over a lost or stolen load of lobsters that could cost that company hundreds of thousands in legal fees and damages. The story reports about a lawsuit filed in federal court in Massachusetts that is claiming the shipping company is liable for an entire load of lobsters that was supposed to end up in California, but was …

Court Issues Opinion on Second and Third Levels of Insurance

Kevin Anderson Cargo Liability, Transportation

Anyone involved in the trucking and transportation industry understands how complex the relationships used to move products can be. Many times there is a shipper, freight broker, motor carrier, at least one insurance company, assigned shipment receiver and more who are involved in a complex relationship to move goods across the country. And each one of those relationships is ruled (or should be) by a written contract that determines what should happen when the relationship goes south. In most cases, what should happen after cargo is lost, damaged, destroyed, or stolen is clear. The Carmack Amendment is a federal policy which holds motor carriers one hundred percent liable, unless the liability is waived. This policy is one of the reasons why insurance companies are so heavily involved with most shipments. Secondary and Tertiary Insurance Policies A recent case out of the Northern District of Illinois illustrates how different insurance policies …

Motor Carriers and Federal Wage Standards

Kevin Anderson Employment and Labor, Transportation

The trucking industry is one of the most, if not the most regulated industries in the country. Federal regulations touch every aspect of how a trucking company operates its business. Between permits, licenses, inspections, and many other even more complicated areas of regulations, the trucking industry is easily a front runner for being the most heavily regulated of industries. But the news is not all bad regarding regulations in the trucking industry. True, it does complicate things quite a lot, but it also gives relief in other areas through preemption and replacing the myriad of state laws that would, if not preempted, make it even more difficult to operate. And in this web of regulations are rules that even prevent some federal laws from being implemented against a trucking company, under certain circumstances. Federal Labor Standards Act Among the areas in which transportation companies are exempt from federal laws are …

Limits on Liability, Crux of Carmack Cases

Kevin Anderson Cargo Liability, Transportation

More often than not, a Carmack Amendment case comes down to one simple issue, and that issue is one of the most misunderstood in the industry. The crux of the majority of Carmack Amendment cases revolves around whether a carrier properly limited their liability prior to shipment. Obviously in the wake of lost or damaged cargo, the shipper almost always attempts to avoid full liability, while carriers universally affirm liability was limited. This argument surfaces again and again in Carmack Amendment cases, in part, because of nature of the carrier shipper relationship. Anytime a relationship begins between shipper and carrier, the two do not hope or anticipate anything going wrong with the shipment, and expectations are high that the cargo will make it to its destination without any problems. But that is just the sort of thinking that gets carriers into trouble and stuck with giant bills that can break …