Revisiting Shipper/Carrier Liability to Third Parties for Injury Caused by Allegedly Improperly Loaded Freight

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The possibility of a shipper being found liable to a third party who is injured by allegedly improperly loaded freight is an evolving one. Historically, the onus of responsibility, and liability, for loading freight has been with the carrier. Indeed, both case law and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations set forth these duties by the carrier. However, recently, at least one federal district court has found that a shipper does owe a duty to third parties to properly inspect and secure freight, when that aspect is its responsibility (as opposed to the carrier’s) with regard to that particular shipment. Even in that case though, the court did not find a breach of that duty by the shipper, nor did it find a causal link between any act or omission by the shipper, and the injury to the third party.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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