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How to resolve claims and disputes with your carrier (Part Two) |

Understand the legality of your Bill of Lading

Legality with regard to requirements and claim processes varies greatly from country to country especially when it comes down to liability amounts and filing deadlines. It is of outmost importance to pay attention to the source origin as it will determine jurisdiction for this claim to be resolved. For example, if your load was shipped from Canada and delivered in Mexico and there was damage to it or theft, Canadian law will apply to resolve the claim.


File your claim immediately

Filing deadlines vary considerably per jurisdiction, past these deadlines your claim would automatically be dismissed.

Bill of Lading American: Nine months from delivery date. Your claim must include detailed shipping and delivery places, pick up and delivery dates, and claim amount.

Bill of Lading Canadian: Sixty days from shipping date or nine months in case the carrier did not make the delivery. Carta Porte Mexican: Time frame specified in the Carta Porte. In the case, there was no prior agreement to a particular time frame, the legal time frame will be six months. It is important to mention, in theory, this claim should be filed at the time the delivery takes place. Preferably, notate on the Carta Porte the issue at hand at the time you receive the merchandise regardless if it is damage or theft.


Learn the maximum liability amounts per claim

In Mexico and Canada, the carrier’s responsibility is limited to a fixed amount per metric ton or pound; unless prior to the shipment being made, the carrier agrees to pay a higher amount using the “declared value” stated in the  Bill of Lading or Carta Porte.

Mexico: 15 days of minimum wage per ton, or a pro-rated amount if shipments of lesser weight.

Canada: two canadian dollars per each pound.

United States: The carrier is responsible for the total value of the merchandise if damaged or stolen; unless prior to shipment, an agreement is made for a lesser amount.


Mitigate your claim with the carrier

It is the responsibility of all involved to take any action necessary to mitigate claim amounts for possible damage. For example, it is not advisable to sell the merchandise to a second-hand dealer to recover part of the loss before even reaching an agreement with the carrier or before your claim is resolved legally. To show little or no willingness to work with your carrier as this will not speak in your favor before any judge when addressing claim amounts to determine damage for your claim.


We must be cognizant of the fact that if your Company requests shipments on a regular basis, there is the possibility that your merchandise might be damaged or lost in some cases. Therefore, your Company must be prepared to file a claim to recover damages and to avoid having to resort to court proceedings.

To file a law suit will be a costly option in time and money. The better prepared you and your team are to file a timely claim with your carriers, the less probability of having to file a law suit. It is advisable you make sure you count with expert advise for any questions.

In such cases, this saying is applicable: “Prepare for the worse and hope for the best.”

Salvador Bañuelos

Sal is known internationally for the debt collection results he has provided to the freight transportation and import/export industries worldwide for the last 15 years. Author of "Credit and Collections in the Freight Industry Handbook" & "Credit & Collections Policy – Practical Guide”. He contributes to the industry with articles in the following leading magazines: T21 and Enfasis Logistica Contact him:  E-mail ,  Twitter ,  facebook,

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