Damaged Goods and the Cargo Claim Procedure

No one likes to hear the words “lost”, damaged” or “destroyed” when it comes to cargo that has been entrusted to a shipping specialist. As an importer/exporter, your client’s container has a certain value, and the shipper is responsible for the goods reaching its destination safe and sound. As most freight forwarders will tell you, they also want your client’s cargo to be delivered without any damage taking place. However it is inevitable that from time to time, something will go wrong, and proper steps need to be taken afterwards.

When one of your clients experiences a loss due to improper handling of their freight or cargo they will probably need help with the cargo claim procedure, especially if this is their first time filing a claim. Naturally, each case is going to be different in some way, and each will require a different action; however one of the first things to investigate is the way the container was loaded, and the way the materials were packed.

Improper loading lies with the shipper

Evidence of improper packing or loading that would cause the goods to move around in the container will likely point to negligence on the part of the shipper. Maybe the damage occurred at the loading port, transfer port or upon arrival to the destination. The freight forwarder will likely urge you to notify them as soon as the decision to file a claim is made.

One necessary step may involve the freight forwarder taking action as a mediator between your client and the carrier. They should follow up the preliminary claim, supported with proof (i.e. pictures or video), with a formal claim that states the amount of the claim with a detailed breakdown of the charges incurred. A formal claim must include the commercial invoice and packing list along with any other documents deemed necessary.

It is the responsibility of the interested party to provide sufficient evidence stating carrier’s liability for the damages in order to mitigate the damages or loss incurred. In order to prove mitigation of the loss, the claimant has to show that the goods have been either disposed of, or sold at lower price. Protecting your client’s interest starts with an understanding of the cargo claim procedure when an unfortunate incident occurs.

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