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Words Can Hurt You

Protect your business with properly-worded bills of lading

Also, under the phrase “This Shipment is Freight Collect,” the bill of lading should explicitly state that “If the carrier named herein or its agent delivers this shipment to the consignee or its agent without payment of freight charges or other lawful charges, this carrier or its agent does so without recourse to the shipper or its agent.”

In the past, bills of lading required the signature of the shipper to make the freight collect, with no recourse language; however, it is far better to simply state, without the requirement of a signature, that there is no recourse against the shipper.

Also, “Contract Terms and Conditions” on the back of the bill of lading should include provisions binding the carrier to the bill of lading’s terms and conditions, noting that the shipment will be delivered in a timely manner, there will be the standard nine-month period for filing claims against the carrier or truck broker, and specifying that the truck broker is acting as the carrier’s agent and agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the shipper or consignee from any loss due to the carrier’s negligence or its failure to properly perform and comply with the terms of “this agreement.”

Finally, the declared value of the shipment should also be stated on the face of the bill of lading, so there is no doubt about any loss should the carrier not properly transport the load. If a carrier states it has insurance, the shipper should get a copy of the policy, as many times coverage is inadequate or tends to vanish.

Special Restrictions
In regard to any shipments traveling on California highways, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has new regulations that apply to all affected vehicles and/or carriers regardless of where they may be registered.

Consequently, if a carrier is operating within California, the bill of lading should also include the following language: “Carrier or its agent certifies that the TRU [transport refrigeration units, i.e., reefer] equipment furnished for loading this shipment is in compliance with California regulations.”