Time Limits for Filing a Cargo Claim under the Carmack Amendment

If you have experienced loss or damage to your shipment, you need to act fast. A shipper that has experienced loss or damage to a shipment by a carrier needs to file a claim with the carrier in order to attempt to recover for the loss of the cargo. It is important to act quickly in filing your claim in order to avoid losing your ability to recover payment. Many carriers designate the time period in which a timely claim will be allowed, so it is important to review the bill of lading and any applicable tariffs from the carrier. However, under law, the minimum amount of time that a carrier can require for filing a claim is 9 months from the date of delivery or, when there has not been delivery, 9 months from a reasonable time for delivery. 49 USC § 14706(e)(1).

After you submit your claim to the carrier, the carrier has 30 days from the receipt of the claim to acknowledge that it has received your claim. See 49 CFR § 370.5. The carrier then has 120 days from the receipt of claim to either: (1) pay the claim, (2) compromise or settle the claim, or (3) to pay the claim. See 49 CFR § 370.9. If the claim cannot be processed or disposed of by the carrier within that 120 day period, the carrier may provide status updates to the shipper for each 60-day period thereafter and state the status of the claim and the reasons for delay.

If the Carrier denies your claim, you will then need to file a lawsuit to attempt to recover for your loss. Just as with the time to file a claim, the Carrier can designate the time period in which a lawsuit can be filed. However, a Carrier may not limit the time to file a civil action to less than 2 years. See 49 USC § 14706(e)(1). The start of the 2 year period begins from the time the Carrier gives written notice that the claim has been disallowed. See id.

As with most things, there are always exceptions to the rule. Generally, though, the above deadlines are applicable to most claims. If you have questions about your claim, feel free to contact us directly. By carefully tracking the applicable and relevant dates in a cargo claim, you can ensure that your claim is made in a timely fashion, thereby preserving your right to recover for that loss.

Have questions about a specific case? Don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly at the number listed below.

Skoubye, Nielson, Johansen Attorneys Salt Lake City Utah

Mark B. Thornton