HIGHWAY bosses are hopful that a new government shake-up will help to reduce a £12million compensation bill for crashes, slips and trips in Lancashire.

County roads chiefs have paid out more than £3.4million, in recent years, for public liability claims linked to the highway network.

Nearly half of the cases revolve around people being hurt on the county’s roads or pavements — and payouts are forthcoming in 69 per cent of them.

Vehicle damage accounts for another 45 per cent — but only 27 per cent of those applications see motorists win out.

Now the government, worried about the escalating costs imposed on local authorities from defending the claims, has ordered a reduction in court costs.

But the compensation thresholds, in turn, have been increased by an additional 10 per cent for successful claimants.

Environment official Rick Hayton said in a report: “Overall the proposals are thought to be more favourable to defendants than to claimants but the picture remains uncertain.”

Road bosses say that the highway inspections service has now been brought under the county authority’s control, which should ensure a more ‘robust’ system of checks.

In 2007-08 and 2008-09, the compensation totals were £3.4million and £3.41 respectively, with £2.72million handed out in 2009-10 and £1.44million in 2010-11.

But the totals for 2009-10, 2010-11 and the last financial year may still rise as ‘victims’ have six years in which to submit a damages claim or a three-year limitation in per-sonal injury suits.

Just over one in four public liability claims lodged with the county council are said to result in a compensation pay-out.