When Is the Shipping Company Liable? 

4 July, 2023 | By Redemption Law
When Is the Shipping Company Liable? 

Shipping companies operate in a fast-paced, competitive industry where timely deliveries often outrank other considerations. This constant pressure to meet deadlines, however, can lead to mistakes, damages, and even severe accidents with significant consequences for businesses and individuals.

A truck accident lawyer can determine if you can hold a shipping company liable for any damages incurred or injuries sustained in accidents. This article explores when you can hold a shipping company accountable, outlines how to determine liability, and reviews the legal remedies available to victims of shipping accidents or mishandled deliveries.

Duty of Care

In legal liability, a duty of care refers to the responsibility that a person or organization has towards others to protect them from harm or injury. This duty arises from a relationship in which one party relies upon the other to maintain safety or care in their operations.

When Is the Shipping Company Liable

Shipping companies have a duty of care to their customers, employees, subcontractors, and any third parties their operations may impact. This includes ensuring prompt and safe pick up, transportation, and delivery of shipments.

Shipping companies must maintain proper safety procedures on their ships, vehicles, and other equipment to prevent accidents that could lead to injury or damage.

Duty of care in the shipping industry includes ensuring the proper handling of hazardous materials, adequately training and supervising employees, and maintaining equipment to reduce the risk of accidents.

You can hold a shipping company liable for damages if it fails to secure a shipment properly, resulting in damaged contents. Similarly, a shipping company that neglects maintenance of its fleet of vehicles may breach its duty of care if one of its trucks is in an accident due to mechanical failure.

Breach of Duty

A breach of duty occurs when a party that owes a duty of care to another party fails to uphold that duty, resulting in harm or injury. In legal terms, this breach represents a form of negligence through which a person or organization can be accountable for damages resulting from their actions or omissions.

Negligence can take many forms in the shipping industry: improperly labeling or packaging hazardous materials, for example. If a shipping company breaches its duty of care, a court might hold it financially responsible for resultant damages.

The shipping company might have to pay medical bills for injured parties, or face legal repercussions for non-compliance with regulations. A company's reputation can suffer, leading to potential loss of business and decreased profitability.


Causation is the connection between a party’s breach of duty and the resulting damages or injuries. To establish liability in your personal injury case, your lawyer will help you prove that the shipping company’s actions or omissions directly caused your injuries or damages.

To do this, your attorney must gather evidence, such as vehicle maintenance records, employee training logs, or shipping documentation.

Proving causation in shipping company liability cases can be complex, as it may involve multiple factors or parties. A shipping company may argue, for instance, that a third party, such as a subcontractor or an unrelated driver, was responsible for the damages or that your negligence contributed to the incident.

An experienced attorney can thoroughly investigate the circumstances and build a strong case to establish causation, giving you the best chance of receiving the compensation you deserve for your damages or injuries.

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Foreseeability suggests that a person or organization should be legally accountable only for the consequences of their actions or omissions that were reasonably foreseeable at the time. It plays a vital role in determining shipping company liability.

The courts will consider whether the damages or injuries resulting from the company's actions were foreseeable and whether a reasonable person in the company's position would have taken measures to prevent them. If you prove that the shipping company failed to take precautions or ignored foreseeable risks, they may be liable for the resulting damages.

In the shipping industry, certain types of damages are foreseeable, such as damage to goods due to improper handling or packaging or injuries resulting from a lack of proper safety equipment. Unforeseeable damages may include injuries from extraordinary natural disasters or criminal acts outside a reasonable person's scope of prediction and prevention.


Damages refer to the financial compensation for a plaintiff who has suffered harm or injury due to a defendant's negligence or breach of duty. Damages restore the injured party as closely as possible to their pre-incident position.

Damages awarded in shipping company liability cases can include compensatory damages to reimburse you for your actual losses, such as medical expenses, lost earnings, or property damage. In some cases, you may also get punitive damages to punish the shipping company for egregious conduct and deter others from engaging in similar behavior.

An experienced attorney can assess the value of your lost or damaged goods, determine the extent of your injuries and their impact on your ability to work, and evaluate any future expenses that may result from the incident. They can navigate the complexities of the process and review all relevant factors to fight for the compensation you deserve.

Statute of Limitations

A statute of limitations refers to the time you have to file a legal claim. If you do not file your claim within the specified period, you may lose the right to pursue legal action and recover compensation for your injuries or damages.

The statute of limitations for filing personal injury claims against shipping companies varies by state, the type of claim, and the nature of your damages. The statute of limitations most often starts from the date of the incident or the date you should have discovered your injuries.

If you fail to file a claim within the statute of limitations, you might permanently lose your right to pursue compensation. Consult an attorney as soon as possible following an incident involving a shipping company to ensure they can file your claim before the statute of limitations expires.

Regulatory Compliance

National and international standards govern the shipping industry. These regulations govern safety, environmental protection, and the transportation of hazardous materials.

Non-compliance with regulations can significantly affect a shipping company's liability in cases involving damages or injuries. If you can prove that the shipping company's non-compliance with a regulation contributed to the incident, you can hold the company liable for any resulting damages. Even contractual provisions and other legal defenses might not protect a company.

Regulatory violations in the shipping industry may include failure to follow proper procedures for handling hazardous materials, operating vehicles or vessels in an unsafe manner, or violating environmental protection laws. These violations can help your personal injury case by serving as evidence of negligence and can lead to legal penalties for the shipping company.

Vicarious Liability

Vicarious liability holds an employer responsible for its employees' or subcontractors' actions. If an employee or subcontractor causes harm or injury while performing their duties, you can hold the employer liable for any resulting damages, even if the employer did not directly cause the accident.

Vicarious liability applies to companies in the shipping industry in certain circumstances. If a truck driver causes an accident while on the job, for example, you can hold the company liable for any resulting injuries or damages.

Consult an Experienced Lawyer After Suffering Damages from Shipping Company Negligence

Christopher D. Alas, Truck Accident Attorney in Miami
Christopher D. Alas, Truck Accident Lawyer in Miami

You must understand shipping company liability if you rely on the shipping industry to transport goods and materials. You should familiarize yourself with the duty of care, breach of duty, causation, foreseeability, damages, contributory negligence, contractual obligations, statutes of limitations, regulatory compliance, and vicarious liability to better understand a shipping company's responsibility for damages or injuries.

Having this understanding can help you protect your interests, ensure you receive appropriate compensation in the event of an incident, and mitigate potential legal risks. Knowing when you can hold a shipping company liable can help you make informed decisions about the compensation you should pursue.

If you suffered damages or injuries from a shipping company's actions or negligence, consult an experienced attorney who can pursue compensation and navigate the complexities of shipping company liability. Don't wait until it's too late—protect your interests and seek the justice you deserve by contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer today.