The 26th Alaska State Legislature, 2009 - 2010||
Sponsor Statement: House Bill 366
Motor Carrier Indemnification Agreements
“Relating to indemnification agreements that relate to motor carrier transportation contracts.”
Posted: March 1, 2010 : v26-LS1434\R
Bill Version: CSHB 366(JUD)
Status: Chapter 21 SLA 10 : 2010-05-27
The purpose of this legislation is to promote safety in the carriage of goods by motor carrier.
A motor carrier must generally comply with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations while it is transporting goods, and is also subject to additional common law or statutory duties or responsibilities. Likewise, shippers or other parties frequently have legal duties and responsibilities to fulfill when they provide goods for transportation. More and more frequently, however, shippers are pressuring motor carriers to provide transportation under contracts in which the motor carrier contractually agrees to indemnify and hold harmless the shipper for the shipper's own failure to meet its legal duties and responsibilities.
The effect of these indemnification clauses is to eliminate the incentive for the shipper to meet its responsibilities and duties in a prudent and reasonable manner. In essence, such a clause makes the motor carrier the shipper's insurer. Such a shifting of liability through contract completely contradicts sound public policy. One of the primary reasons for assigning legal liability is to persuade the offending party to regulate its behavior. However, where the shipper is at fault but is nevertheless indemnified by the motor carrier, there is nothing the motor carrier can do to change its own behavior to make things safer. That ability lies solely with the shipper.
A similar problem with respect to public construction contracts has already been addressed by the legislature in AS 45.45.900.
This legislation voids contractual provisions in motor carrier transportation contracts that indemnify a shipper for the shipper's own negligent or intentional acts or omissions which lead to claims. It maintains the incentive for a shipper that is a party to a motor carrier transportation contract to perform its legal obligations and duties in a prudent and reasonably safe manner.