Understanding Truck Accident Claims Against CloudTruck Drivers

  • CloudTrucks is a mobile platform aimed at helping independent truckers and owner operators manage their business more easily through a wide range of services.
  • The Virtual Carrier plan, which is the company’s core product, is a broad package where drivers operate under CloudTrucks’ authority, and CloudTrucks manages everything for the driver, including paperwork, customer support, payments, taxes, load sourcing, compliance, and insurance.
  • If the driver who caused your accident is operating under CloudTrucks’ Virtual Carrier plan, CloudTrucks’ insurance policy covers the costs of your injuries and property damage.
  • If the driver is using CloudTrucks’ Flex plan, they are operating under their own DOT authority and liability insurance policy, so you will need to file a claim against the driver’s policy.
Profile of popular American dark bonnet classic big rig semi truck tractor with chrome and stainless steel accessories going on the road with sunshine in blurred background
Profile of popular American dark bonnet classic big rig semi truck tractor with chrome and stainless steel accessories going on the road with sunshine in blurred background

Most freight movement in the United States is conducted by truckers, with a growing market worth $791.7 billion in 2019. Of the 3.5 million truck drivers in the U.S., one in nine are independent and a majority are owner operators. Unlike trucking company employees, independent truck drivers can choose their own loads, control their own schedules, and often make more money.

Despite these advantages, many truckers feel daunted at the idea of having to handle their own bookings, manage their own schedules, collect their own payments, and comply with federal operating requirements. In 2019, a private startup company called CloudTrucks launched a platform aimed at helping trucking entrepreneurs manage their business more easily.

Similar to Uber, CloudTrucks uses a mobile app to display jobs, or loads, from different brokers and loadboards. Drivers can book some loads instantly via the app, while they must submit a bid for others either directly through the app or with help from the CloudTrucks dispatch team.

CloudTrucks is well known in the trucking world and is a popular choice for independent drivers looking to build their business with the wide range of services the platform provides. Drivers can choose among different plans that work best for them, whether they’re an owner operator with one truck who leases onto a carrier or operates under their own authority, an owner who has up to five trucks as part of their business, or a contractor who leases rather than owns their truck.

The CT Cash plan helps drivers get paid faster through instant pay and cash card options and allows cash advances so drivers have enough funds for fuel and maintenance. The Flex plan provides booking, schedule optimizing, and other services for owner operators who manage their own compliance and insurance. The Virtual Carrier plan, which is the company’s core product, is a broad package where drivers operate under CloudTrucks’ authority, and CloudTrucks manages everything for the driver, including paperwork, customer support, payments, taxes, load sourcing, compliance, and insurance.

Essentially, CloudTrucks allows independent truckers the freedom of owning their own business without all the hassle of managing the operations by themselves. And they can earn much more than a typical company employee.

What Insurance Coverage is Offered by CloudTrucks?

If you use CloudTrucks’ Virtual Carrier plan, then you operate under CloudTrucks’ Department of Transportation (DOT) authority and are covered by its insurance. CloudTrucks’ coverage includes auto liability, general liability, and cargo insurance. The auto liability policy covers injuries and property damage sustained by third parties in an accident, though drivers are only covered while operating a booked load under CloudTrucks’ authority or while traveling directly to that dispatch.

To be covered under CloudTrucks’ insurance policy, the driver must pay the greater of $150 per week or 5 percent of the gross load value, which is charged as you complete loads over the course of the week. Drivers who own or lease their own equipment are required to have physical damage and occupational accident coverage through their own insurance policy in addition to the coverage provided by CloudTrucks.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has specific requirements for the amount of insurance coverage a carrier such as CloudTrucks must carry to be granted operating authority. If the commercial vehicle carries freight, the liability insurance policy must provide $750,000 to $5,000,000 in coverage depending on the type of commodities transported. For nonhazardous freight moved only in vehicles weighing under 10,001 lbs., the minimum policy limit is $300,000. The FMCSA also requires carriers to provide $5,000 per vehicle and $10,000 per occurrence in cargo insurance.

CloudTrucks Driver Qualifications

To become a CloudTrucks driver, you must be at least 23 years old, have a clean (i.e., no at-fault accidents) driving record, and a 7-year employment record. In addition, you cannot have any drug convictions in the past five years and no failed drug tests. You must also have had a Class A commercial driver’s license (CDL) for at least two years and recent experience with Class 8 Tractor/Trailer driving. A Class A CDL is legally required to operate any combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating of 26,001 or more lbs., provided the towed vehicle is at least 10,000 lbs.

Drivers who own or lease their own equipment must also have physical damage and occupational accident coverage through their own insurance policy. If you use the Virtual Carrier plan, CloudTrucks provides liability and cargo insurance as well as permits and DOT authority. If you only use the Flex plan or CT Cash plan, you must have your own liability and cargo insurance and DOT authority.

Registration Offered by CloudTrucks

To operate as an independent truck driver, you must have credentials at both the federal and state level. Federal law requires that all commercial vehicles transporting passengers or hauling cargo

in interstate commerce (as well as intrastate commercial vehicles hauling hazardous materials) must be registered with the FMCSA and have DOT authority.

Georgia law also requires intrastate commercial motor vehicle registrants to have a DOT number. The DOT number serves as an identifier when collecting and monitoring safety information during audits, compliance reviews, inspections, and crash investigations.

In addition, truckers must also register, file, and pay fuel taxes—which involves obtaining an International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) Georgia license if Georgia is their base jurisdiction and they will be operating on interstates—as well as have proper state license plates and other permits.

If you’re operating under the Virtual Carrier plan, CloudTrucks handles all registrations for you, and you operate under CloudTrucks’ DOT authority and insurance policy. Drivers pay nothing up front to join, but CloudTrucks charges an 18 percent service fee on all brokerage loads. Under the Flex plan, drivers must handle their own registrations and operate under their own DOT authority and insurance policy.

Who Is Liable for a Truck Accident Claim Against a CloudTrucks Driver?

If you’re injured in an accident caused by a CloudTrucks driver, your lawyer will need to investigate to determine who is legally responsible for paying your damages. Depending on the circumstances, you may have a claim against CloudTrucks, the driver, or both—or even a third party, such as the truck manufacturer or cargo loader.

First, your attorney will need to look at the relationship between CloudTrucks and the driver. If the driver is operating under CloudTrucks’ Virtual Carrier plan, CloudTrucks’ insurance policy should cover the costs of your injuries and property damage. If your damages exceed the policy limit, you can sue the driver personally for the remaining amount.

If the driver is an owner operator using the Flex plan, they are operating under their own DOT authority and liability insurance policy, so you will need to file a claim against the driver’s policy.

Because CloudTrucks’ insurance is limited to when the driver is transporting a load or on their way to pick one up, CloudTrucks may try to argue that the driver wasn’t covered at the time of the accident. In this situation, you may need to file a claim against both CloudTrucks and the driver to ensure you’re fully covered.

If the accident was at least partially caused by cargo being improperly loaded, you may have a claim against the company that loaded it. If the accident was caused by mechanical failure or a faulty part, such as brakes, the manufacturer of the truck may be liable for damages to the accident victim.

Call The Millar Law Firm for a Free Consultation

If you were injured in an accident with a CloudTrucks driver, you should talk to an experienced attorney to determine who is responsible for paying your damages. Our lawyers go to work

immediately to investigate the accident and help you recover the full value of your claim. Call The Millar Law Firm today at (770) 400-0000 or contact us online to set up a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

- D. Lo
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