Truck Crashes on Highway 285 in Colorado

At Cook, Bradford & Levy, we are experienced Colorado truck accident lawyers who understand why Highway 285 in Colorado has earned the nickname “America’s Death Highway.” This route—commonly used by truckers—features several significant changes in elevation, powerful gusts of wind, blowing snow, limited visibility, wildlife, and other features. For example, speeding, distracted driving, and drowsy driving all contribute to accidents on this road.

As Highway 285 truck accident lawyers covering Colorado, we hear about many crashes on Hwy 285 and have represented several victims and their families. In fact, one 16-mile stretch from south of Foxton Road to Indian Hills/ Parmalee Gulch Road saw 75 crashes in an 11-month period. We know how dangerous this road can be, how commonly truck accidents occur, and how important it is to hire an attorney with the experience and expertise to maximize your recovery. At Cook, Bradford & Levy, we win big on truck crash cases for our clients.

What Makes Highway 285 So Dangerous?

Highway 285 is a north-south route that runs 846 miles from Sanderson, Texas, to Denver, Colorado. This is a major route in Colorado, even though it traverses dangerous mountainous and rocky terrain between Santa Fe and Denver. How else will our mountain communities get the goods they need to thrive? With that said, only experienced truck drivers should use this route, but too often we see novice or inexperienced operators try navigating this road without the necessary skill. Sadly, this leads to catastrophic and even fatal crashes.

Due to its location in the heart of Colorado’s small communities, Highway 285 is commonly used by commercial trucks, commuters, tourists, regional travelers, and others. This is a major thoroughfare for large trucks hauling a wide range of cargo, including fuel and hazardous materials.

In Colorado, U.S. 285 passes through several high and low points including the San Luis Valley, Poncha Pass, the Arkansas River Valley, Trout Creek Pass, the South Park basin, Red Hill Pass, and gorgeous Kenosha Pass on its way to Denver. Due to its location in these valleys and passes, weather conditions can often severely affect the road’s drivability.

Where Are the Specific Areas of Concern on Highway 285?

An experienced Hwy 285 truck accident attorney knows that while any part of U.S. 285 in Colorado has experienced its share of truck accidents, there are several areas where risk factors, location, or weather often contribute to a higher frequency of accidents. These sections include:

Near Kenosha Pass

U.S. 285 climbs up and over Kenosha Pass, surpassing 10,000 feet in elevation. Then, it descends quickly toward the south side of the Mount Evans massif. This section of the highway has steep grades, sharp turns, limited sight lines, and quickly changing weather conditions. Indeed, the wind gusts across this section of 285 have caused semi-tractor trailers, RVs, and even passenger trucks with trailers to get blown over or swept off the road itself. There are wind barriers that have been built in this area, but they cannot stem the extreme wind gusts that sweep across this stretch of highway.

Grant to Bailey Stretch

This section of U.S. 285 has frequent accidents. The high traffic volume, narrow lanes, wildlife, and limited visibility can cause collisions even in good weather.

Conifer Area

Unlike much of the rest of U.S. 285 in Colorado, the grade and weather are not the most significant concerns in this area. Instead, heavy traffic and congestion cause issues with merging lanes and navigating intersections.

Morrison to Turkey Creek Canyon

This section approaches the Denver metro area from U.S. 285 and has tight curves, steep grades, and frequent rockfalls. Limited sightlines can also contribute to collisions. Numerous reported wildlife crossings in the area increase the distractions for drivers navigating the tricky curves in large commercial vehicles.

What Factors Increase the Risk of a Truck Accident on U.S. Highway 285?

As Colorado Highway 285 truck accident lawyers, we understand that many factors increase the risk of truck collisions on US 285. They include:

Driver Behaviors
  • Speeding
  • Aggressive driving
  • Drowsy driving
  • Distracted driving
  • Inexperienced drivers with heavy loads on difficult terrain
Geographic and Environmental Factors
  • Steep grades
  • Tight turns
  • Quick changes from high elevations to low valleys
  • Weather conditions, including frequent snow, ice, and fog
  • Limited guardrails and barriers
Traffic and Road Conditions
  • A high volume of commercial trucks
  • Inadequate road maintenance in some areas, especially following periods of ice and snow
  • Congested areas and frequent stopped traffic
What is the Future of U.S. Highway 285 in Colorado?

One 16-mile, downhill, curvy stretch is known for speeding truckers—and deadly crashes. Although the speed limit is 45 mph, vehicles often travel much faster through this section. Crashes are common. In June 2024, Colorado State Patrol (CSP) told Fox31 there were 75 collisions on U.S. 285 between mile marker 235 near Foxton Road and mile marker 246 at Indian Hills/ Parmalee Gulch Road the previous year.

One of the recent crashes on this section of HWY 285 took the life of one man and seriously injured another. According to the Denver Post, the truck’s brakes failed, the driver lost control, and the load of steel pipes spilled. The collision involved six vehicles. This occurred near Aspen Park during the evening rush hour.

A good Hwy 285 truck crash attorney understands that to improve safety on this stretch and others, a united effort will be necessary. This is not unprecedented. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and others worked together to use evidence-based data and robust planning to widen this section of U.S. 285 in the early 2000s. While some work has occurred, there is much left to do to improve safety.

What Should I Do if I Am Hurt in a U.S. 285 Truck Accident in Colorado?

If you suffer injuries in a truck accident, make your health and safety your top priority. Once you get treatment and care for your injuries, contact a Highway 285 truck accident lawyer to help you navigate the process. Knowing what to do after a truck accident ensures your rights remain protected, and you can recover the money you deserve.

Determining fault in a truck accident that occurred in a remote location can be challenging, which is another reason why experience matters when choosing a lawyer. Depending on the factors involved in the crash, the liable parties could include the truck driver, their employer, and even the entities like Wal-Mart or Amazon who were responsible for loading the trailer. At CBL, your attorney will investigate what happened and collect compelling evidence to tell the story to the insurance company or at trial, including pulling the “black box” that stores data ranging from speed, when brakes were applied, and what safety measures the driver took before impact.

Recoverable Compensation

After suffering injuries in a Colorado truck accident, you may recover damages to pay your expenses and losses, including future medical care. The damages victims can typically claim following a truck accident include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost income
  • Pain and suffering
The Role of a Truck Accident Attorney

When you hire a Colorado truck accident lawyer, you will have someone on your side to manage your case from start to finish. You can focus on treatment and healing while they take care of your legal claim or lawsuit. Since you will likely be going up against a large company, corporate insurance carriers, and possibly government agencies in these cases, you want an attorney to represent you.

Talk to Our Team About Your Highway 285 Colorado Truck Accident Injuries

Cook, Bradford & Levy, LLC, represents victims hurt in truck accidents in Colorado. Either Brian Bradford or Jason Levy can easily meet with you in person, over the phone, or via video call. Let us review your case for free. Contact us by calling (303) 543-1000 now.

Client Reviews
“I was rear ended by a driver on his cell phone. I started with another attorney, but was not receiving adequate attention to my case. I switched to Brian and everything changed. He was attentive to my situation, listened to all I had to say, and worked to resolve my case in a timely fashion. He continued to communicate and touch base even during slow parts of the process. After the settlement was resolved, he has still reached out to check in on my health and well being. I would highly recommend Brian Bradford as a lawyer.” Randy
“A driver trying to get away from the police ran a red light and broadsided my car. My injuries affected me physically, emotionally and organizationally. Hiring Steve Cook allowed me to focus on healing while ALL the legal Issues were effectively handled by his firm. Steve's patience, honest, determination. competence and experienced evaluation of my case resulted in a great settlement without having to go to trial.” Shirley
“I was injured in a car accident and I was having a hard time getting much of a response from the insurance companies. I never thought I would resort to calling an attorney, but I am so happy that I did, and that Jason Levy was that attorney. He was respectful, knowledgeable, and kind. When I was healing from major surgery, he arranged for my deposition to take place all the way out in Harford County, at a library near my home, rather than having me come into the city. He was also very persistent with the other driver's insurance company, finally negotiating an excellent settlement” Kate