rail transport freight

Filing Claims for Loss or Damage to Cargo

Our primary objective is to deliver all of the shipments entrusted to us on-time and damage free. However, there are times when loss or damage to cargo occurs and when that happens our Freight Claim specialists are here to investigate, document and determine the cause of the problem and assist in the fast, fair resolution of your claim. Following the steps outlined here will help us to resolve any loss and damage problems you might incur:

1. Notify the rail carrier that delivered your freight immediately upon finding loss or damage.

  • The contacts for notifying KCS and KCSM are listed in the contacts section below.
  • The rail carrier may or may not decide to send someone to inspect the freight. Regardless of their decision, once you have notified the carrier you have fulfilled your obligation. If the carrier waives their right to inspection, your claim cannot be denied based on the lack of a railroad inspection.
  • If the destination rail carrier waives the right to inspect, ask for a copy of the waiver.
  • If the destination rail carrier elects to inspect the loss or damage, make sure the railcar and the freight are available and accessible to view and inspect. The carrier will not pay to re-position the freight.
  • Demurrage will be waived until the inspection is made if the carrier exercises their right to perform an inspection.
  • Rules for notification and inspection of loss or damage to cargo are slightly different in Mexico. Please refer to the information on the Confronta process.

2. Document the loss or damage

  • Take photos – of the rail equipment, the damaged product, the seals and the load before or during the unloading process.
  • Keep records – including loading manifests, unloading tallies and counts and scale weights if necessary.
  • Don't dispose of damaged freight without notifying the destination rail carrier.

3. Filing your claim - General Information

  • Rail Carrier liability for loss or damage is based on the terms and conditions contained in the contract of carriage.
  • Most contracts of carriage incorporate by reference the terms of KCS Rules Publications including liability terms. Unless a contract containing specific terms is in place prior to shipment, the terms contained in the Rules Publications will govern liability for claims for loss or damage to cargo.
  • The terms contained in KCS Rules Publication limit KCS responsibility for loss or damage to cargo. Minimum claim amounts and maximums of liability apply as well as exclusions for loss or damage caused solely by acts of force majeure.
  • Any shipper wishing to obtain different terms including liability as provided in 49 U.S.C. 11706 (referred to as Carmack Liability) may do so by contacting KCS prior to shipment.
  • Only the beneficial owner of the goods may file a claim. If a party is not listed on the railroad Bill of Lading we will require an assignment showing interest or standing from the shipper or consignee listed on that Bill of Lading.
  • Claims must be filed within the contractual time limits from the date of delivery or, in the case of shortage or loss, within the same time limit from the expected date of delivery.
  • Claims filed in the United States must be filed within 9 months from delivery.
  • Claims filed in Mexico must be filed in 180 days from delivery.
  • Filing a 'notice of claim' or an 'Intent to claim' will not protect the timeliness of your claim filing unless those documents make a demand for a specific amount and are accompanied by the necessary supporting documentation.
  • Standard Form for Presentation of Loss and Damage Claims

4. Claim Documentation

  • Documenting your claim is simple and straightforward. You will need to establish that KCS handled your shipment and that you have paid the freight charges, that the goods were undamaged and in a specific quantity when you tendered the shipment at rail origin and that they were damaged or in a lesser quantity when the shipment was delivered at rail destination. You also need to show us how you arrived at the amount you are claiming. If your claim is for damage you will also need to tell us what happened to the damaged cargo.


Examples of Documents

A demand for a specific amount and the reason for the demand.

Either a claim presentation form or a letter that outlines the amount and the reason for the claim.

Rail carrier billing information showing the carrier actually handled the freight and that freight charges were paid.

Copies of the bill of lading or paid freight bill. A printed copy of electronic bills will also suffice.

Proof of the condition and quantity at origin. Proof of the type and number of seals applied at origin is necessary if the claim is for shortage.

Loading manifests, tallies or invoices will meet this requirement. Weight tickets from certified scales and official grade certificates for bulk shipments.

Proof of the condition and quantity at destination, including evidence that the freight was loaded correctly in compliance with AAR rules.

Documentation such as photos, unloading tallies, unloading reports and inspections. Weight tickets from certified scales and grade certificates for bulk shipments. Photos are excellent at establishing that the loading method was correct.

An explanation of how you arrived at the amount you are claiming and proof of that amount.

A simple mathematical calculation of how you arrived at the amount supported with invoices or repair bills that support your amounts claimed. In other words, how did you determine how much to demand and what documents did you use to arrive at that amount?

In the case of a claim for damaged freight, please advise as to what was done with the damaged freight.

If you are asking for the carrier to pay for damaged freight, the carrier is entitled to take possession of the goods.

Address Phone/Fax Email
KCSR Freight Claims
PO Box 219335
Kansas City MO 64121-9335


816-983-1825 phone
816-218-0114 fax


KCSM de Mexico
Avda Manuel L. Barragan #4850 Nte
Colonia Hidalgo
64290 Monterrey, N.L. (Nuevo Leon)
1-888-812-9512 ext. 7534
toll free U.S. phone 1-812-9512-7033
toll free U.S. fax 8305-7900 ext. 7534 from Mexico