Caring For the Goods of Others and Warehouseman Liability

A warehouseman engages in the business of receiving and storing the goods of others for compensation. While the goods may vary in value, the responsibility is equal in terms of their legal responsibility for any cargo in their care. By accepting merchandise for storage and safekeeping, the warehouseman could be on the hook if the property is stolen, and there’s also the risk that, unbeknownst to the warehouse owner or manager, the contents of something in their care may be prone to hazardous combustibility, or could potentially result in contaminating other cargo.


The warehouseman’s responsibility for the care of such goods may actually exceed his expectations. Unfortunately, under the United States Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), when a person takes part in a bailment situation they legally assume liabilities. This demonstrates how important it is to carry warehouseman liability insurance for instances where a claim is filed due to some mishap or other unfortunate circumstance.


A vital cog in today’s industry


The warehousing industry is one of the world’s largest. It continues to grow quite rapidly. In the US, warehousing has evolved into a multi-faceted public and private sector venture. With the growth of the warehousing business and its importance to the nation’s commerce, there arose federal and state laws governing the liability and practices of warehousemen. These laws set forth the measure of warehousemen’s responsibility for stored goods, provided for inspection, and regulated the issuance of warehouse receipts that are often used as security for loans.


Warehousemen may be public, private, or bonded. A public warehouseman is one whose services are available to anyone who is willing to pay the charges and accept the warehouseman’s terms of storage. The warehouseman will store those goods for a specific period of time, normally a time that is contractually agreed upon. There are also private warehouse storage facilities, controlled by department stores, chain stores, manufacturers or distributors. Branch or field warehouses belonging to these private facilities are located at various places in areas of distribution to customers or branch locations.


Facilities owned or controlled by warehouse operators are exposed to the risk of fires, theft, or damage of third-party owned cargo stored in their facilities. Claims can be avoided in many cases, but when cargo is lost or stolen, at that point warehouseman liability becomes an issue and insurance is your best solution.

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