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How liable is a moving company if your stuff gets damaged?

Apr 11, 2024, 10:20 PM | Updated: 10:51 pm

PARK CITY — Dave Donegan’s home was just about to go into renovation, so he hired a moving and storage company to hold onto his household goods while work was underway. 

“(They) packed everything up, put it into their own storage place,” Donegan said. “So, it wasn’t shipped to be in storage someplace far away. It was locally stored, locally packed. And it was great.” 

Great, until he unpacked the boxes six months later to find a lot of damage.

Two of the items that was broken in the move.

Two of the items that were broken in the move. (KSL TV)

“They stocked a stack of dishes in a box – no wrapping,” Donegan said of some of the damage he found which included broken dishes and China, shattered holiday décor, scratched furniture and busted artwork including a piece he says he found stuffed in a box with a stepladder without any wrapping. 

Donegan said he put in a claim of about $2,000 to try to replace some of these belongings.

“Based on finding things on eBay or other secondary sites,” he said. “They never disputed anything that we provided them.”

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But he was told $648 was all he was going to get as far as compensation.

“Take it or leave it,” he said of the offer. “And we decided not to take it.”

Investigating this one, we found there are federal laws in place that protect a customer if their stuff is damaged. Movers must reimburse customers 60 cents per pound for damaged stuff and even more if they pay for extra full replacement value coverage.

But that law only kicks in when stuff is moved from one state to another and since Donegan’s stuff never left Utah, it won’t help him. As for Utah law, the state’s Division of Consumer Protection wrote us that there is no specific law about reimbursement rates for movers who damage stuff moved locally. But they said movers still have to stick to the terms in their contracts.

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That could help Donegan because he got a contract and in it, he paid extra for extra coverage.

“$750 for an incremental $50,000 of insurance,” he said of the policy.

With that, the KSL Investigators reached out to the moving company, All My Sons. The company did not respond to our multiple inquiries. We also stopped hearing from Donegan but that is not entirely surprising. All My Sons asked him to sign a non-disclosure agreement with their original $648 settlement offer, which he refused to sign. But now, Donegan has stopped disclosing. 

“Things got damaged that didn’t have to be,” he told us during our interview. “I just think that’s bad form.” 

Two statues that were broken in the move.

Two statues that were broken in the move. (Courtesy: Dave Donegan)

In the end, we cannot say if All My Sons ended up paying Donegan more. But under both federal and state law, if you pay a mover for full value protection, the company is supposed to give you the full price to replace stuff that’s damaged. 

Something you should know for the next time you hire a mover: there are several caveats in the law such as if you pack your own boxes without properly wrapping fragile items, the movers will not be responsible. Or, if you don’t tell them your stuff includes dangerous or hazardous materials, they are not liable for any resulting damage.

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How liable is a moving company if your stuff gets damaged?