The right of an individual or organization that publicly advertises itself for hire for the transportation of goods to keep possession of the cargo it has delivered to a destination until the person who is liable to pay the freight charges plus any other expenses incurred by its shipment has done so.
Not all carriers are automatically entitled to have a lien for nonpayment of freight charges. A private carrier, one that does not offer its services to the public but transports goods pursuant to a special agreement, does not have a lien on property shipped unless provided by statute or under the terms of the carriage contract.
When a carrier retains goods under a lien it must exercise reasonable care to protect the cargo. It will be liable for any damage to such property that might have been avoided if ordinary precautions had been taken. Damages resulting solely from the detention of the property are the responsibility of the person who has failed to pay the freight charges; he or she must absorb that loss.