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Can I File a Claim Against my Carrier for my Delayed Shipment?

Shipment delays are a common experience. Your carrier tells you that your shipment will arrive by next Thursday, but it doesn’t arrive. Your shipment might be delayed for several days or weeks before it is actually delivered. The question is – can you be compensated for the shipment delay by filing a freight claim?

Unfortunately, there’s no cut and dry answer to this question.

What Encompasses a Shipment Delay?

There are two questions to ask when reviewing shipment delay claims:

1. Did the carrier deliver within “reasonable dispatch”?

2. Was it clear that the shipment had to be delivered by a particular time?

Shipment Delay Outside of Reasonable Dispatch

“Reasonable dispatch” refers to the amount of time that a shipment should reasonably take to deliver. A carrier may be required to reimburse you for damages if they took longer than a reasonable amount of time to deliver the shipment. If the carrier took longer than they initially told you, but they were still within reasonable dispatch, then they are generally not liable.

Shipment Delay with Required Delivery Time

There are some cases where your shipment becomes worthless if it is not delivered by a particular date and time. If you make this clear to the carrier and include it in your contract, then you are within your right to be compensated by the carrier for your loss caused by the delay.

The courts have favored cases like this, where seasonal merchandise was delayed to the point that it could not be sold until the following year. This is an example of a situation when the carrier may be found liable in the case of a shipping delay.

How to Protect Yourself from Shipment Delays

Keeping these things in mind, here are a few tips to protect yourself from a shipping delay:

  • If it’s essential that your shipment is delivered by a certain date and time, make sure that this is clearly stated in your contract with the carrier.
  • Find out what the reasonable dispatch is for your delivery. If the reasonable dispatch for the trip is greater than you can afford to wait for your shipment to be delivered, upgrade to a faster form of shipping.
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