If I am a truck owner-operator, can I take a shipper to small claims court for damage to my trailer while loading?

Asked on November 5, 2011 under Business Law, Georgia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The answer is that if the shipper is at fault in some way--that is, it either deliberately or, more likely negligently (carelessly) damaged your trailer--then you should be able to sue. But there must be fault.

So if the shipper did the loading, and loaded improperly, causing damage, you could sue. Or if the damage was caused in someway due to improper packaging, you would likely have a cause of action. But if the packaging was good and either the shipper loaded properly or you did the loading, then there would likely be no liability, since there would be no fault on the shipper's part. The shipper is not automatically responsible for any damage which involves it merchandise--it is not yoru insurer. It is only liable when it is at fault.

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