Bill of lading

A chilly reception…

When it comes to shipping frozen goods, a bill of lading is an important part of the agreement, but it must specify certain conditions in order to properly protect your goods.


A company dealing in frozen goods hired a trucking firm to carry frozen goods to a customer in the United States. The boxes were clearly marked “frozen goods”. The driver forgot to turn on the refrigeration unit and the cargo spoiled. The U.S. customer, being prudent checked the trailer for a temperature reading when it arrived. They noted that the temperature inside the trailer was not at the required level and refused delivery.

The trucking company admitted their error and reported the claim to their liability insurers. The adjuster for the trucking firm inspected the bill of lading and noted that it did not specify either to keep the cargo frozen or the temperature that the trailer must be maintained at. The trucking firm’s insurer successfully denied the claim to the customer for the spoilage of the goods.

A bill of lading stands up very well in court. Here are some important points to remember when it comes to shipping goods and the bill of lading.

  • If shipping temperature sensitive goods, the required temperature must be specified on the bill of lading.
  • An admission of liability by the trucking company does not over-ride the legalities of the bill of lading.
  • A bill of lading will only pay $2.00 per pound unless there is a “declared value” specified on the form.

Make sure the bill of lading is properly completed and equally important; make sure you have your goods properly insured with your own insurer.