The Carriage of Goods by Sea Act (COGSA) is a document that carefully outlines the liability of shippers carrying goods across the ocean. It states that “neither the carrier nor the ship shall be responsible for loss or damage arising from… fire, unless caused by the actual fault or privity of the carrier.” But what does that mean in plain English?
In general, the shipper and the ship are not responsible for lost or damaged cargo in the event of a fire. However, the liability of the shipper depends on what the cause of the fire was. For example, if the fire was caused directly due to the negligent actions (or inaction) of the shipper, the shipper may be responsible for the destroyed cargo. But if the fire incident was not due to the shipper’s error, the shipper cannot be held responsible for the damage. In other words, you must investigate the cause of the fire before determining liability.
As you can see, whether or not a shipper is liable for cargo destroyed in a vessel fire varies on a case-by-case basis. Perhaps the best way to ascertain who was at fault for the loss or damage of a ship’s cargo due to fire is to speak with a marine insurance claim attorney. At the Voss Law Firm, our knowledgeable and experienced lawyers can help you better understand your shipping incident by examining evidence as well as the COGSA Act defenses. To get your questions answered today, call to schedule a free, confidential appointment: 888-614-7730.