Cargo damage during a collision? Who should pay for the damage and why do company bosses charge drivers? Is it possible to avoid responsibility without wasting time and money?
A truck driver who is also an employee of a trucking company has certain responsibilities as well as rights. The former includes, of course, driving according to regulations, operating the vehicle and trailers, as well as the necessary administrative tasks and supervision of the goods. To this must be added the proper loading and unloading in accordance with existing standards. A driver who meets these responsibilities will have no problem getting hired and keeping a job. The employee, after signing the bill of lading, is responsible for the goods being transported on behalf of the employer. What if there is an unfortunate collision or crash in which cargo is damaged? Who will pay for it and why?
Every cargo of a transport company should be insured. The company is even required to do so in case the cargo being transported is damaged, lost or stolen. A good policy covers a wide range of goods, as well as high-risk cargo, such as consumer electronics or household appliances. In addition, you can count on high sums of compensation, however, only if the driver has made every effort in performing his duties, and there are quite a few of them. Here they are:
- accepted the cargo in the quantity according to the consignment note,
- he accepted the cargo in properly secured packages,
- the chilled or frozen cargo was at the proper temperature,
- ensured that the goods were properly stowed and secured.
In these few cases, the driver met his obligations. When this did not happen, the road to repayment of losses by the insurer for the damaged bill, may no longer be so simple. It is worth noting that every deviation as to the condition of the goods, their protection or temperature must be included in the consignment note. The driver is also obliged to inform his workplace about it. Then it will be decided whether the transport may be possible at all.
Will the employee pay for damages?
In many places on the Internet, but also not only you can read about heated complaints of truck drivers, who are forced by their employer to pay for the cargo destroyed in the course of a collision or crashes. What does it look like from the legal side? The employer has such a possibility, however, only in specific situations
- the driver was driving dangerously, disregarding restrictions and road signs,
- did not observe the established working hours,
- he did not take proper care of securing and placing the load,
- instructions included in the order and waybill were not consistently followed by the driver (he changed the route on his own, did not show up at the designated border crossing or did not meet the deadline for delivery and clearance at the freight forwarder’s).
These are a few obvious offenses of the driver, who must reckon with the fact that if there was a collision while transporting cargo, the employer will have the right to oblige the employee to pay damages. When it happens unintentionally, the amount cannot exceed the equivalent of 3 months’ salary. In case of an intentional collision, which rather rarely happens, the amount may be equal to the value of the cargo
A carrier, when hiring a driver, must take into account the risk of such an event. He may hold the employee financially liable, but must have irrefutable proof of his fault. This is clearly stated in the Labour Code, where it is clearly written that the employer can expect payment of losses by the employee only if the actions of the driver consist of failure to perform duties or performing them improperly. When the employee has done everything right, he cannot be charged any financial penalties by the employer