Like broker liability cases, theories of shipper liability for the negligent hiring of trucking companies are contingent upon the common law in your state of jurisdiction. States which have adopted Restatement (Second) of Torts §411 should also recognize claims against shippers as being viable if there is sufficient evidence that the shipper failed to exercise reasonable care in the selection and hiring of a competent motor carrier to haul its goods. In shipper liability cases, courts may make a distinction between “sophisticated” shippers (shippers who regularly ship goods in interstate commerce) and “casual” shippers as part of the evaluation as to whether a given shipper has exercised reasonable care in the selection of a motor carrier. The case law covering shipper liability is limited in comparison to the multiple cases across the country which have held that a broker may be liable for the negligent hiring of a motor carrier.
Another consideration under shipper liability is whether the shipper participated in the loading process, and, if so, whether having undertaken to act it did so negligently by failing to properly secure the load. In a negligent loading case, the FMCSR may provide evidence of the standard of care. If a trailer is sealed before it is picked up by the motor carrier, there is some authority for the to presume that the shipper participated in the loading process.