If the life of a person is lost by reason of a defect or a want of repair of or a want of a sufficient railing in or upon a way, causeway or bridge, the county, city, town or person by law obliged to repair the same shall, if it or he had previous reasonable notice of the defect or want of repair or want of railing, be liable in damages not exceeding four thousand dollars, to be assessed with reference to the degree of culpability of the defendant and recovered in an action of tort commenced within two years after the injury causing the death by the executor or administrator of the deceased person, to the use of the following persons and in the following shares:
(1) If the deceased shall have been survived by a wife or husband and no children or issue surviving, then to the use of such surviving spouse.
(2) If the deceased shall have been survived by a wife or husband and by one child or by the issue of one deceased child, then one half to the use of such surviving spouse and one half to the use of such child or his issue by right of representation.
(3) If the deceased shall have been survived by a wife or husband and by more than one child surviving either in person or by issue, then one third to the use of such surviving spouse and two thirds to the use of such surviving children or their issue by right of representation.
(4) If there is no surviving wife or husband, then to the use of the next of kin.
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