Although Merrell Bros. provides services all over the country, the biosolids management company maintains its largest trucking operation in Florida—which the American Trucking Association lists year after year as one of the most dangerous states for trucking companies from a frivolous-lawsuit standpoint. With dozens of semi-trucks collectively logging millions of miles a year throughout Florida, the company needed a way to protect itself against aggressive plaintiffs’ attorneys hoping to turn every fender-bender into a multimillion-dollar jackpot against a deep-pocketed trucking defendant.
Merrell Bros. turned to its longtime vehicle tracking partner, ClearPathGPS, to equip its massive fleet of semis, service trucks, and other vehicles with dashcams to capture real-time video. In the years since, these fleet dashcams have helped to significantly improve the company’s operations— and protect its reputation and bottom line
“Given how unfavorably the legal system in Florida treats trucking companies, any accident—even if we’re not at fault—could cost Merrell Bros. $10 million. It’s an ongoing threat to our business. But thanks to our ClearPathGPS dashcams, we now have video to protect us against unfounded suits, and we’ve already used footage several times to save us from potential million-dollar nightmares.” - Blake Merrell GENERAL MANAGER, FLORIDA OPERATIONS
Blake Merrell, General Manager of Florida Operations for Merrell Bros., notes that the commercial trucking community has nicknamed his state the “Hellhole of the South” for its unfair legal treatment of trucking businesses in accident lawsuits. Just one of several reasons for this, he explains, is that, unlike most states, Florida allows juries to determine not only who’s at fault in a collision lawsuit but also the number of monetary damages to award. Fortunately, Merrell Bros. has already been able to avoid these legal issues.
Since equipping his vehicles with dashcams, Blake points out, his drivers have been in several collisions. “Now that we have the video footage, we’re avoiding the aggressive plaintiffs’ attorneys hoping to hit the lottery,” he says. “It’s so easy to grab the ClearPathGPS footage that we’re even able to give the video clips to law enforcement at the scene of the accident. That means the video goes into the official police record, which helps to bolster our case both against frivolous suits and also with our insurance company.”
Speaking of insurance, Blake also notes that ClearPathGPS is helping Merrell Bros. hold its fleet insurance rates steady year after year—a luxury most trucking companies don’t enjoy.
“Even though we maintain a high safety score as a company, we should still have been subject to a rate hike in each of the last couple of years. It’s just the nature of the insurance industry, especially with inflation kicking in.”
But since rolling out the ClearPathGPS dashcams fleetwide, Blake explains, Merrell Bros. insurer hasn’t raised the company’s premiums once. “The insurance company has told us that part of the reason they’re holding our rates steady is our ability to provide them with such useful data after an incident—including our drivers’ travel speeds and especially the dashcam video. In that sense alone, ClearPathGPS is helping us save a couple hundred thousand dollars a year in rate hikes. ”Heading off a potential catastrophe