Road accidents happen, and no one is insured against being involved in one. Often in the transportation industry, drivers are faced with circumstances that are beyond their control, and the consequences for the goods being transported can be fatal. Some of the most common factors that predispose to a road accident include road conditions, the reactions of other road users, speed, the dimensions of the truck, and the specifics of the cargo being transported. At Clams Trans, we have successfully resolved just such a case, where the entire cargo perished during a road accident.
Our client is a freight forwarding company that was contracted to transport goods from Bulgaria to Sweden. They, in turn, subcontracted the transport to a carrier. The cargo being transported is wine weighing 24 tonnes with a significant material value. Due to the driver’s inappropriate speed, the lorry entered oncoming traffic, crashed into another lorry, overturned, and went off the road.
As a result of the accident, all the wine leaked out, and the driver of the other truck had minor injuries. The event took place in Romania, and the police immediately arrived at the scene to secure the area and retrieve the crashed truck. Already at this stage, the transporter is obliged to notify the assigning party, and so until information reaches the owners of the goods. In the present case, we have a total loss of goods, but in other circumstances where the damage is partial, it is important to recall that under the applicable CMR Convention Article 14(1), if for any reason it is impossible to carry out the transport before the goods reach the place designated for delivery, the carrier must request instructions from the person entitled to dispose of the goods.
The CMR carrier’s liability insurer was informed immediately of the incident. We investigated the need to appoint an surveyor, but in view of the fact that the damage was total, the insurer considered that there was no need to engage a surveyor. The driver was taken to the police to give his statement and subsequently to obtain an official police report, which is a compulsory document for any insurer under the “Carrier’s Liability” CMR when the event is a road traffic accident or theft.
In the event of road accidents where the cargo is totally damaged, it is important to collect all evidential documents to be provided to the insurer for their opinion. Often, when the action takes place in another state, obtaining an official police report can be a major challenge and lead to greater tension with the parties involved. At times like this, it is important to put clients at ease and make regular checks with the police regarding the issuance of the report that specifies the cause/party at fault for the crash.
After providing all the necessary documents to the carrier’s CMR liability insurer, another hurdle ensued which delayed the insurer’s ruling. As mentioned at the outset, the driver of the other truck was slightly injured in the crash, so a pre-trial proceeding was initiated against the at-fault driver (our client’s subcontractor). In this case, however, the insurance cover applied to the liability of the carrier for the damage to the cargo during carriage, which was, in fact, the case. Therefore, the tort lawsuit filed was not relevant to this liability. After active communication with the insurer, it confirmed payment of compensation for the full value of the totally damaged (lost) goods.
Although road traffic accidents can lead to great uncertainty, and the resolution of resulting claims can sometimes take considerable time, there are specific mechanisms to speed up the process of obtaining and providing the necessary information. This helps to dramatically improve the situation and reduce the time taken to resolve the issue.
When all parties concerned are informed in a timely manner of the development of the case, when the carrier fulfills its obligation to notify its insurer under the carrier’s liability insurance CMR immediately after the insured event, and when the responsible law enforcement authorities quickly and correctly draw up a document of the event, then all that is necessary is to control the process and apply the legal framework.
At Clams Trans, we rely on our extensive experience in handling claims of this nature and insist that our clients receive effective and legally sound advice to resolve their cases. We value the human aspect highly and always try to preserve the commercial relationship between the participants in the supply chain. We also do not allow escalated tensions to affect our professional judgment because we believe that success comes when you are consistent, responsible, and precise in your work.