It doesn’t matter what you’re shipping, you’ll be lucky to endure this hardship just once in your business’s life: damaged freight. Freight is at risk of damage from all sorts of sources, from human errors like dropping or mishandling to unforeseen catastrophes like floods or fires. It’s impossible to eliminate the risk of damage entirely — which means you need to know how to react to damaged freight when (not if) it occurs to you.
Fortunately, we can help you with that. Here are a few crucial steps you should take when your freight is damaged, so you can avoid serious financial liability and continue to ship things safely in the future.
Investigate the Extent of the Damage
What at first glance might look like a minor crumple on the packaging can easily translate to utterly devastated goods inside, so it’s imperative that you thoroughly inspect the freight to understand exactly what has gone wrong. As you move through the shipment container or survey the individual item with damage, you should pay close attention to every part; there could be issues concealed beneath padding or even inside a product itself, especially if the good is composed of small or delicate interior workings, like tech. You should also do your best to investigate the condition of the shipment vehicle itself, looking for damage inside and outside the container or car. While drivers might be eager to leave for another job, you shouldn’t be intimidated by them; you need to understand the extent of the damage before you take any steps to rectify the situation.
Document the Damage in Detail
While you are surveying the damage to your freight, you should be documenting every step of your search, using timestamped pictures, notes and other documentation methods you deem appropriate, like video or sound recordings. You should make a detailed log of your first discovery of the damage through your steps to address the issue, so you have thorough information about what happened and when.
The more documentation you have, the better. This is because damaged freight is a significant expense that could lead to legal trouble with carriers, manufacturers, clients and more. You want to protect yourself using the truth. If you have the right documentation, you might even be able to avoid any kind of legal battle at all by using your evidence to convince those responsible for the damage to compensate you without a court’s compulsion. Then again, you’ll need documentation to successfully take advantage of your freight insurance if the damage is appropriately covered.
Identify the Cause of the Damage
If possible, you should identify the cause of the damage to your freight. Sometimes, the cause is obvious. For instance, if the truck is caved in on one side due to a collision, it’s likely that your freight was damaged during this uncommon event. However, if your freight frequently arrives a bit scuffed up, you should take pains to identify where in the process of shipping your freight is being mishandled. There are a variety of supply chain monitoring tools to help you accomplish this goal, including shock, vibration, moisture and temperature monitors, and you might need to invest in these to prevent damage in the future.
File an Appropriate Freight Claim
Freight claims, shipping claims, cargo claims and transportation claims are four types of legal demands for financial reimbursement due to a variety of losses. If your freight isn’t damaged but it is lost or short, you can also file a claim of this sort — but you should make sure to file the right one and that it is completed with accurate information. To do this, you should take advantage of your thorough documentation, and you shouldn’t discount the effectiveness of communication and willing cooperation with the other party.
It’s notable that you won’t recoup any profits you might have made on your freight if you file such a claim; rather, you will only recover your costs. Additionally, you need to work quickly to file this claim. Carriers must acknowledge the claim within 30 days of filing, but you only have 10 to 15 days to file after you receive your damaged freight.
Damaged freight isn’t the end of the world, especially if you respond swiftly and appropriately to the event. With the right efforts, you’ll be able to receive remuneration and avoid further damage to your goods in the future.