The £34m claims bill for the Selby rail crash could be split between Fortis and the government in an out-of-court settlement.

Legal insiders are predicting that the parties will settle the claim before the High Court case finishes on 17 October.

Fortis' claim against the Government centres on whether the Highways Agency discharged its duty in assessing the appropriate safety measures required at Great Heck, where the accident occurred.

While Fortis is not contesting that Gary Hart, the driver of the Land Rover that crashed on to the railway line, was responsible for the smash, it maintains the accident would not have happened had there been adequate protection around the bridge.

The insurer has already settled 47 of the claims resulting from injuries or fatalities that occurred in the crash, paying out £22m. It estimates the remaining 47 claims will cost it a further £12m.

Fortis has a retained liability for Selby claims of £1m, with Fortis International carrying a further £500,000. Above this level the company has reinsurance cover.