In a recent case, the Chief Magistrate Judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico reviewed the terms of a personal injury settlement. The review was on behalf of minors, two children whose father was killed in a car accident, to determine if the settlement should be approved. Allegedly the minors’ father was killed when a pick-up truck he was driving was struck head-on by a pick-up truck that had crossed the center line in the roadway. The driver of that pick-up truck was killed in the accident also.
The children were not in their father’s pick-up truck at the time of the accident and did not sustain bodily injuries in connection with the accident. Their mother brought litigation, on her own behalf, on behalf of the estate of their father, and on behalf of the children. She sought recovery of damages from multiple parties including the company that employed the driver of the vehicle that had struck her husband’s vehicle, and the driver’s insurance company. The litigation she brought led to a settlement.
As part of the settlement, she and her children were to receive $4,530,007.00, comprised of several payments. Under § 41-2-3(B) of New Mexico’s Wrongful Death Act, one half of the net settlement proceeds was to be distributed to her and the remaining half was to be distributed evenly between her two children and invested on their behalf. The guardian ad litem appointed by the court was in favor of the settlement.
In reviewing the settlement, the court considered several factors to guide the exercise of the court’s discretion. The court first considered whether the proposed settlement was fairly and honestly negotiated. The court was satisfied with this aspect of the settlement because the settlement followed an arms-length private mediation. Next the court considered whether serious questions of law and fact exist, placing the ultimate outcome of the litigation in doubt, and whether the value of an immediate recovery outweighed the mere possibility of future relief after protracted and expensive litigation. The court concluded there were questions concerning liability, that made settling and taking the money offered advisable. Finally the court considered whether, in the judgment of the parties, the settlement was fair and reasonable. As all parties were supportive of entering into the settlement, and based on review of the record, the court concluded that settlement was fair and reasonable and in the best interests of the children.
If you or a loved one has been hurt in an accident, you may be entitled by law to receive a monetary award. In some cases multiple parties can be liable for the payment of money damages. Receiving damages can help injured people and their families recover out-of-pocket costs including medical bills and lost wages. The legal process for pursuing a recovery can be complex, and you should not have to navigate the process on your own. We can help. To understand more about your case and how it can be pursued to maximize your financial recovery, call New Mexico personal injury lawyer Matthew Vance. At the Law Office of Matthew Vance, P.C., we provide a free consultation and can be reached at 505-445-1604 or send us a message online.