Damaged Cargo

How to Handle a Damaged Cargo from an International Container Shipment:

We all have heard horror stories about containers hanging off ships by their straps or having gaping holes or the cargo in a container has been completely crashed upon itself. At some point, damages are bound to happen to everyone who ships regularly. The question is: What do you do?

When you first figure out that you have severe damages, you will want to open the container - DON'T! Before removing any cargo or even breaking the seal if it is still intact on a container that has obvious damages, the best thing to do first is to call your insurance company, then the shipping line that was used. Do not open the container until a representative of the carrier is there. This way a joint survey of the damages can be taken together so an assessment of any damages can be made.

Depending on the type of damages, it could be a struggle to recoup any losses. If the container itself is broken or has holes, you will need to prove that the cargo was damaged because it was not seaworthy. The problem with this is that the shipping line can still reject a claim arguing that it is the responsibility of the shipper to check the empty container before loading. If the cargo inside has been shifted in transit, the shipping line can reject a claim because the shipper loaded the container. The most effective way to handle any claim is to get all parties involved so you can agree on what happened as well as the level of damaged goods verses the goods that can be salvaged. Not only will this allow for a better rapport regarding the claim, but it will get your claim processed that much faster.