Proposed House bill 4727 would create a so-called “national hiring standard” for motor carriers which would preclude states from imposing liability on anyone arranging for transportation of goods, i.e. transportation intermediaries such as shippers, brokers and freight forwarders. The bill requires that no more than 35 days prior to pickup of an arranged shipment, such entities verify that a selected carrier: (1) is registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to operate as a motor carrier or household goods carrier; (2) has the minimum insurance coverage required by Federal regulation and (3) does not have an unsatisfactory safety rating issued by FMCSA in force at the time of the verification.

In the absence of any national regulation, states are currently setting their own standards for liability. Under the new bill, states are prohibited from imposing liability “on an entity that hires a motor carrier for the transportation of property or household goods if such liability arises from a claim or cause of action related to the negligent selection of such motor carrier under common law, statutory law, or any rule, regulation, standard, or provision having the force of law, for the personal injury, death, or damage caused to cargo or other property by such motor carrier.” Thus, intermediaries who verify carriers accordingly, will be exempt from any state imposed liability.

The Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA) helped draft language in the proposed legislation and hopes to see it become part of the next highway bill. TIA believes that the new regulations will clarify and standardize industry best practices for hiring safe motor carriers.

We are closely monitoring the progress of this legislation and welcome your questions and comments. For additional information please contact Joe Orlet.