§ 62‑203.  Claims for loss or damage to goods; filing and adjustment.

(a) Every common carrier receiving household goods for transportation in intrastate commerce shall issue a bill of lading therefor, and shall be liable to the lawful holder thereof for any loss, damage, or injury to such household goods caused by it, or by any carrier participating in the haul when transported on a through bill of lading, and any such carrier delivering said household goods so received and transported shall be liable to the lawful holder of said bill of lading or to any party entitled to recover thereon for such loss, damage, or injury, notwithstanding any contract or agreement to the contrary; provided, however, the Commission may, by regulation or order, authorize or require any such common carrier to establish and maintain rates related to the value of shipments declared in writing by the shipper, or agreed upon as the release value of such shipments, such declaration or agreement to have no effect other than to limit liability and recovery to an amount not exceeding the value so declared or released, in which case, any tariff filed pursuant to such regulation or order shall specifically refer thereto; provided further, that a rate shall be afforded the shipper covering the full value of the goods shipped; provided further, that nothing in this section shall deprive any lawful holder of such bill of lading of any remedy or right of action which such holder has under existing law; provided further, that the carrier issuing such bill of lading, or delivering such household goods so received and transported, shall be entitled to recover from the carrier on whose route the loss, damage, or injury shall have been sustained the amount it may be required to pay to the owners of such property.

(b) Every claim for loss of or damage to household goods while in possession of a common carrier shall be adjusted and paid within 90 days after the filing of such claim with the agent of such carrier at the point of destination of such shipment, or point of delivery to another common carrier, by the consignee or at the point of origin by the consignor, when it shall appear that the consignee was the owner of the shipment: Provided, that no such claim shall be filed until after the arrival of the shipment, or some part thereof, at the point of destination, or until after the lapse of a reasonable time for the arrival thereof.

(c) In every case such common carrier shall be liable for the amount of such loss or damage, together with interest thereon from the date of the filing of the claim therefor until the payment thereof. Failure to adjust and pay such claim within the periods respectively herein prescribed shall subject each common carrier so failing to a penalty of fifty dollars ($50.00) for each and every such failure, to be recovered by any consignee aggrieved (or consignor, when it shall appear that the consignor was the owner of the property at the time of shipment and at the time of suit, and is, therefore, the party aggrieved), in any court of competent jurisdiction: Provided, that unless such consignee or consignor recover in such action the full amount claimed, no penalty shall be recovered, but only the actual amount of the loss or damage, with interest as aforesaid; and that no penalty shall be recoverable under the provisions of this section where claims have been filed by both the consignor and consignee, unless the time herein provided has elapsed after the withdrawal of one of the claims.

(d) A check shall be affixed to every parcel of baggage when taken for transportation by the agent or servant of a common carrier, if there is a handle, loop or fixture so that the same can be attached upon the parcel or baggage so offered for transportation, and a duplicate thereof given to the passenger or person delivering the same on his behalf. If such check be refused on demand, the common carrier shall pay to such passenger the sum of ten dollars ($10.00), to be recovered in a civil action; and further, no fare or toll shall be collected or received from such passenger, and if such passenger shall have paid his fare the same shall be refunded by the carrier.

(e) If a passenger, whose bag has been checked, shall produce the check and his baggage shall not be delivered to him, he may by an action recover the value of such baggage.

(f) Causes of action for the recovery of the possession of the property shipped, for loss or damage thereto, and for the penalties herein provided for, may be united in the same complaint.

(g) This section shall not deprive any consignee or consignor of any other rights or remedies existing against common carriers in regard to freight charges or claims for loss or damage to freight, but shall be deemed and held as creating an additional liability upon such common carriers.

(h) This section shall not apply to motor carriers of passengers and only subsection (a) of this section shall apply to motor carriers of property. (1871‑2, c. 138, s. 36; Code, s. 1970; 1905, c. 330, ss. 2, 4, 5; Rev., ss. 2623, 2634, 2635; 1907, c. 983; 1911, c. 139; C.S., ss. 3510, 3524, 3525; 1947, c. 781; c. 1008, s. 27; 1963, c. 1165, s. 1; 1995, c. 523, s. 12.)