Principles and Practices for the Investigation and Voluntary Disposition of Loss and Damage Claims and Processing Salavage
§ 370.1 Applicability of regulations.
The regulations set forth in this part shall govern the processing of claims for loss, damage, injury, or delay to property transported or accepted for transportation, in interstate or foreign commerce, by each motor carrier, water carrier, and freight forwarder (hereinafter called carrier), subject to 49 U.S.C. subtitle IV, part B.
§ 370.3 Filing of claims.
(a) Compliance with regulations. A claim for loss or damage to baggage or for loss, damage, injury, or delay to cargo, shall not be voluntarily paid by a carrier unless filed, as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, with the receiving or delivering carrier, or carrier issuing the bill of lading, receipt, ticket, or baggage check, or carrier on whose line the alleged loss, damage, injury, or delay occurred, within the specified time limits applicable thereto and as otherwise may be required by law, the terms of the bill of lading or other contract of carriage, and all tariff provisions applicable thereto.
(b) Minimum filing requirements. A written or electronic communication (when agreed to by the carrier and shipper or receiver involved) from a claimant, filed with a proper carrier within the time limits specified in the bill of lading or contract of carriage or transportation and:
- Containing facts sufficient to identify the baggage or shipment (or shipments) of property,
- Asserting liability for alleged loss, damage, injury, or delay, and
- Making claim for the payment of a specified or determinable amount of money, shall be considered as sufficient compliance with the provisions for filing claims embraced in the bill of lading or other contract of carriage; Provided, however, That where claims are electronically handled, procedures are established to ensure reasonable carrier access to supporting documents.
(c) Documents not constituting claims. Bad order reports, appraisal reports of damage, notations of shortage or damage, or both, on freight bills, delivery receipts, or other documents, or inspection reports issued by carriers or their inspection agencies, whether the extent of loss or damage is indicated in dollars and cents or otherwise, shall, standing alone, not be considered by carriers as sufficient to comply with the minimum claim filing requirements specified in paragraph (b) of this section.
(d) Claims filed for uncertain amounts. Whenever a claim is presented against a proper carrier for an uncertain amount, such as “$100 more or less,” the carrier against whom such claim is filed shall determine the condition of the baggage or shipment involved at the time of delivery by it, if it was delivered, and shall ascertain as nearly as possible the extent, if any, of the loss or damage for which it may be responsible. It shall not, however, voluntarily pay a claim under such circumstances unless and until a formal claim in writing for a specified or determinable amount of money shall have been filed in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (b) of this section. (e) Other claims. If investigation of a claim develops that one or more other carriers has been presented with a similar claim on the same shipment, the carrier investigating such claim shall communicate with each such other carrier and, prior to any agreement entered into between or among them as to the proper disposition of such claim or claims, shall notify all claimants of the receipt of conflicting or overlapping claims and shall require further substantiation, on the part of each claimant of his/her title to the property involved or his/her right with respect to such claim.
§ 370.5 Acknowledgment of claims.
(a) Each carrier shall, upon receipt in writing or by electronic transmission of a proper claim in the manner and form described in the regulations in the past, acknowledge the receipt of such claim in writing or electronically to the claimant within 30 days after the date of its receipt by the carrier unless the carrier shall have paid or declined such claim in writing or electronically within 30 days of the receipt thereof. The carrier shall indicate in its acknowledgment to the claimant what, if any, additional documentary evidence or other pertinent information may be required by it further to process the claim as its preliminary examination of the claim, as filed, may have revealed.
(b) The carrier shall at the time each claim is received create a separate file and assign thereto a successive claim file number and note that number on all documents filed in support of the claim and all records and correspondence with respect to the claim, including the acknowledgment of receipt. At the time such claim is received the carrier shall cause the date of receipt to be recorded on the face of the claim document and the date of receipt shall also appear in the carrier’s acknowledgment of receipt to the claimant. The carrier shall also cause the claim file number to be noted on the shipping order, if in its possession, and the delivery receipt, if any, covering such shipment, unless the carrier has established an orderly and consistent internal procedure for assuring:
- That all information contained in shipping orders, delivery receipts, tally sheets, and all other pertinent records made with respect to the transportation of the shipment on which claim is made, is available for examination upon receipt of a claim;
- That all such records and documents (or true and complete reproductions thereof) are in fact examined in the course of the investigation of the claim (and an appropriate record is made that such examination has in fact taken place); and
- That such procedures prevent the duplicate or otherwise unlawful payment of claims
§ 370.7 Investigation of claims.
(a) Prompt investigation required. Each claim filed against a carrier in the manner prescribed in this part shall be promptly and thoroughly investigated if investigation has not already been made prior to receipt of the claim.
(b) Supporting documents. When a necessary part of an investigation, each claim shall be supported by the original bill of lading, evidence of the freight charges, if any, and either the original invoice, a photographic copy of the original invoice, or an exact copy thereof or any extract made there from, certified by the claimant to be true and correct with respect to the property and value involved in the claim; or certification of prices or values, with trade or other discounts, allowance, or deductions, of any nature whatsoever and the terms thereof, or depreciation reflected thereon; Provided, however, That where property involved in a claim has not been invoiced to the consignee shown on the bill of lading or where an invoice does not show price or value, or where the property involved has been sold, or where the property has been transferred at bookkeeping values only, the carrier shall, before voluntarily paying a claim, require the claimant to establish the destination value in the quantity, shipped, transported, or involved; Provided, further, That when supporting documents are determined to be a necessary part of an investigation, the supporting documents are retained by the carriers for possible FHWA inspection.
(c) Verification of loss. When an asserted claim for loss of an entire package or an entire shipment cannot be otherwise authenticated upon investigation, the carrier shall obtain from the consignee of the shipment involved a certified statement in writing that the property for which the claim is filed has not been received from any other source.
§ 370.9 Disposition of claims.
(a) Each carrier subject to 49 U.S.C. subtitle IV, part B which receives a written or electronically transmitted claim for loss or damage to baggage or for loss, damage, injury, or delay to property transported shall pay, decline, or make a firm compromise settlement offer in writing or electronically to the claimant within 120 days after receipt of the claim by the carrier; Provided, however, That, if the claim cannot be processed and disposed of within 120 days after the receipt thereof, the carrier shall at that time and at the expiration of each succeeding 60-day period while the claim remains pending, advise the claimant in writing or electronically of the status of the claim and the reason for the delay in making final disposition thereof and it shall retain a copy of such advice to the claimant in its claim file thereon.
(b) When settling a claim for loss or damage, a common carrier by motor vehicle of household goods as defined in § 375.1 (b)(1) of this chapter shall use the replacement costs of the lost or damaged item as a base to apply a depreciation factor to arrive at the current actual value of the lost or damaged item: Provided, That where an item cannot be replaced or no suitable replacement is obtainable, the proper measure of damages shall be the original costs, augmented by a factor derived from a consumer price index, and adjusted downward by a factor depreciation over average useful life.
§ 370.11 Processing of salvage
(a) Whenever baggage or material, goods, or other property transported by a carrier subject to the provisions in this part is damaged or alleged to be damaged and is, as a consequence thereof, not delivered or is rejected or refused upon tender there of if the owner, consignee, or person entitled to receive such property, the carrier, after giving due notice, whenever practicable to do so, to the owner and other parties that may have an interest therein, and unless advised to the contrary after giving such notice, shall undertake to sell or dispose of such property directly or by the employment of a competent salvage agent. The carrier shall only dispose of the property in a manner that will fairly and equally protect the best interests of all persons having an interest therein. The carrier shall make an itemized record sufficient to identify the property involved so as to be able to correlate it to the shipment or transportation involved, and claim, if any, filed thereon. The carrier also shall assign to each lot of such property a successive lot number and note that lot number on its record of shipment and claim, if any claim is filed thereon.
(b) Whenever disposition of salvage material or goods shall be made directly to an agent or employee of a carrier or through a salvage agent or company in which the carrier or one or more of its directors, officers, or managers has any interest, financial or otherwise, that carrier’s salvage records shall fully reflect the particulars of each such transaction or relationship, or both, as the case may be.
(c) Upon receipt of a claim on a shipment on which salvage has been processed in the manner prescribed in this section, the carrier shall record in its claim file thereon the lot number assigned, the amount of money recovered, if any, from the disposition of such property, and the date of transmittal of such money to the person or persons lawfully entitled to receive the same.