Rhode Island bill attempts to nix truck contract clause

February 1, 2018

Keith Goble


For the fourth time in as many years, Rhode Island state lawmakers are pushing for changes that would end the inclusion of an unfair clause in trucking contracts.

House Speaker Pro Tem Brian Patrick Kennedy, D-Hopkinton, and four more House lawmakers have introduced a bill to prohibit indemnification clauses in trucking contracts. The clauses are set up to protect shippers or hold them harmless from anything that happens with a shipment.

This year’s version, much like previous versions, would outlaw 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 effort.

Mike Matousek, OOIDA’s director of government affairs, says the protection is a reasonable and fair solution to address 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,” he said. “Conversely, shippers and receivers should not be held liable for damages or injuries that arise from the negligence of a trucker.”

States lawmakers across the country have been active in recent years changing rules on indemnity clauses. To date, 45 states have acted to forbid unfair provisions from contracts.

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

Affected contracts in Rhode Island would be defined as “a contract, agreement, or understanding” between a motor carrier and a shipper covering the transportation of property by motor carriers, entrance on property to load, unload, or transport property.

The bill, H7308, is in the House Corporations Committee.

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