The transportation industry is an essential one; it’s an industry that impacts everyone, ranging from small to large businesses to even the everyday consumer. National Truck Driver Appreciation Week (NTDAW), an annual celebration spanning from September 10th to the 16th, facilitates an opportunity to recognize the hard work of professional truck drivers who embody this year’s theme: “miles of gratitude.”
As American Trucking Associations best explained, “This weeklong celebration honors the professional truck drivers who deliver America’s freight safely and securely every day. These 3.49 million professional men and women not only deliver our goods safely, securely, and on time, but they also keep our highways safe.” It’s essential to recognize that the trucking industry is a growing one to say the least. Growth is anticipated to increase by four percent over a ten-year span (2021 to 2031) for both heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers as predicted by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics in its Occupational Outlook Handbook. What does that translate to in terms of the number of workers added to the industry? It equates to an increase of approximately 90,900 over that ten-year period. That’s an increase of almost 100,000 workers!
The following claims example helps to explain how both primary and thirty-party exposures may be present in the context of transporting goods, and sometimes in the same instance as outlined below. This case explores such potential liability exposure involving that of milk transportation where trucking was the selected transportation method.
- Aurora Organic Dairy Corp. v. Western Dairy Transport LLC (MO, 2013)
Here, Aurora Organic Dairy Corporation (“Aurora”) secured a contract, with a third-party bulk milk hauler, Western Dairy Transport, LLC (“WDT”) where WDT was responsible for raw milk transport from multiple farms to a Colorado milk processing facility. The amount of milk generated across three farms alone filled 28 tankers. Upon delivery to the Colorado milk processing facility, it discovered that “unidentified black particles” had contaminated the milk, which was rejected and ultimately destroyed as a result.
In response, Aurora sought property damages from WDT that it had incurred because of the contaminated milk. Upon review, the Court referenced the Carmack Amendment. Essentially, “[t]he Carmack Amendment to the Interstate Commerce Act holds a carrier of goods in interstate commerce liable for loss, damage, or injury to property they transport.” Three elements are required on the part of the shipper to establish such a claim: “1) the goods were delivered to the carrier in good condition; 2) the goods arrived in damaged condition; and 3) the amount of damages.” If such a demonstration is made, the carrier could potentially “avoid liability by demonstrating 1) it was not negligent, and 2) the cargo was damaged by other means.”
Under the circumstances present here, the Court determined that neither party should be granted a motion for summary judgment based on the facts presented. Essentially, disputes as to the material facts of the case were still at issue, such as where the contamination source originated.
Insurance Coverage Options to Explore
You might ask the following: what types of insurance coverage options should be explored under similar circumstances? First, motor tuck cargo (MTC) insurance is just one option. The International Risk Management Institute (IRMI) defines a MTC insurance policy as “an inland marine form covering loss of property in the course of transit, either by common carrier or on the insured’s own vehicles, depending on the form used.” IRMI goes on to define cargo insurance as “inland or ocean marine insurance covering property in transit.” As the trucking industry continues to expand, these are necessary discussions to have at all levels of the business. The case illustration above shows how just one industry was affected by a loss.
Multiple industries are reliant on truck transportation. According to Cloud Trucks, the top four industries that rely on the trucking industry are as follows: (1) agricultural products (82.7%), (2) dairy, fruit, vegetables, and nuts (92%), (3) pharmaceutical products (65%), and (4) lumber and wood products (91.9%). Therefore, we truly have miles of gratitude for those professional truck drivers!
Synapse Services LLC does offer motor truck cargo (MTC) and cargo insurance coverage options. Please contact one of our producers if you are interested in receiving more information about the coverage options available.
By: Jessica Cambridge