Arkansas revokes unfair trucking clauses

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 4/13/2015

The state of Arkansas has joined the majority of states to act to address unfair clauses in trucking contracts.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson recently signed a bill into law to take Arkansas off the short list of states that have failed to take action to do away with indemnification clauses in trucking contracts. The clauses are set up to protect shippers or hold them harmless from anything that happens with a shipment.

Already in effect, the new law forbids provisions in contracts that provide for shippers to be indemnified for losses caused by their own negligence and make them “void and unenforceable.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association supports the change. The Association sent a letter of support to bill sponsors while SB755 was under consideration at the statehouse.

Mike Matousek, OOIDA’s director of state legislative affairs, calls legislative efforts like this a reasonable and fair solution to address existing rules that essentially provide shippers and receivers with immunity from any damage caused by their negligence while a trucker is on their property.

“Truckers should not be held liable for damages or injuries that are caused by the negligence of shippers and receivers,” Matousek said. “Conversely, shippers and receivers should not be held liable for damages or injuries that arise from the negligence of a trucker.”

“SB755 is a reasonable and fair solution that will prevent all parties to a transportation contract from granting themselves blanket immunity.”

States lawmakers across the country have been active the past few years changing rules on indemnity clauses. Including Arkansas, 42 states have acted to forbid unfair provisions from contracts.

A full list of states, and the laws, where protections are in place is available. States yet to adopt protections are Delaware, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Affected contracts in Arkansas are defined as “an express or implied contract, agreement, or understanding” between a motor carrier and a shipper covering the transportation of property for hire by the motor carrier, entry on property to load, unload, or transport property, including the storage of property.

The protection does not apply to intermodal chassis, or other intermodal equipment.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Arkansas, click here.

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