Recovering Tough Claims: The Key to Success with Dropped Trailers

Dick Lucarelli | CDS Freight Claim Management

Freight claim recovery can have its challenges, and some freight claims are easier to recover than others. Some of the more difficult cases to recover are claims from dropped trailers, where the driver is not present. The key to success? The Receiving Department needs to document everything, in a very specific way. Handling freight claims involving a dropped trailer is always more difficult to resolve and requires more attention; however, as long as Receiving follows the proper protocols, it can be done. Here’s how:

Door Seals

When a trailer is dropped at the unloading site, if seals are attached, both the consignee and the driver must verify that the door seals are intact and the seal numbers are listed on all copies of the freight bill/delivery receipt. The driver should never be allowed to remove the seals without the consignee being present.

Document the Exception

Once the trailer is open, Receiving needs to be on the watch for any signs of damage. If there are signs of damage, such as pallets fallen over or wet or damaged cartons, this is the time to take pictures. Photos should be taken right away – before the products are unloaded.

Contact the Delivering Terminal

Next, Receiving needs to contact the delivering terminal as soon as possible. Usually there’s a staff member at the terminal during the night shift; if so, Receiving should call to advise them of the condition of the trailer and the freight. If this is not possible, the carrier should be notified the next morning.

It’s important to get the name of the person contacted, along with complete contact information, including email address. Then, an email should be sent to the delivering carrier; this will verify the phone call and create a paper trail.

Note the Manifest

Usually a dropped trailer contains a manifest or copies of freight bills covering each shipment in the trailer. When an exception is noted, the type of exception should be noted on the manifest and freight bill. The manifest and/or freight bill should then be provided to the driver when the empty trailer is picked up. If the empty trailer is picked up from a lot, the signed freight bills or manifest should be placed in the back of the trailer.

Start Your Paper Trail

The Receiving Department should retain a copy of the notated manifest/freight bill and notification to the carrier. A copy of the notification should be attached to the OS&D Report, as a part of the documentation to support any claim. Also save a copy of the sent email you used to verify your phone call to the delivering terminal.

If you follow these steps, your freight claim will be properly documented and much easier to recover, even though the driver wasn’t present.                

Dick Lucarelli is the VP of Marketing at CDS Freight Claim Management. He can be reached at [email protected] or at

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