Money is wonderful stuff. It is what you use to pay the butcher, the baker or the candlestick maker; if bespoke handmade candelabra are your thing. Though it can just as easily be used to buy energy saving light bulbs.
Money is what is called fungible; all money is created equal and any one sum of money can be readily exchanged for an identical sum of an equivalent amount or for goods and services of the same value.
It is of no nutritional value and, in paper form, has to be burnt in such quantities to produce heat as to be uneconomical. But it can be put to far better use in either of these cases by purchasing the food or fuel of your choice as the case may be.
While money is endlessly useful in the acquisition of material things it is completely limited in this respect. It has been joked that while money cannot buy happiness it’ll get you a far more comfortable class of misery. Money is also said to be like alcohol; in that it can make a good man better and a bad man worse.
When it comes to compensating people for loss or injury that they have suffered as a result of an accident or some else’s negligence, be it a road traffic accident, an accident at work or an incidence of medical negligence, money is the only thing we have to perform this task.
Compensation paid to victims of accidents or medical negligence for loss or injury suffered by them is broken down into two main types, general damages and special damages. General damages are awarded for pain and suffering. Special damages are awarded to compensate for specific items of loss; expenses incurred directly as a result of, say, things like loss of earnings either in the past or projected into the future.
Because the injury or loss suffered by someone as a result of an accident can be permanent and debilitating, the amounts required to compensate them properly over their lifetime as a result can sometimes be substantial and these amounts can be seen by others as a windfall, like some kind of lottery win. Nothing could be further from the case.
The only reason someone will be awarded substantial compensation is because they have suffered a serious loss in their quality of life as a direct result of what has happened to them. I have yet to meet someone injured a result of an accident or medical negligence who would not rather to be without their injury and to be able to do what they were before, be it work, exercise or playing sport, lifting their kids, doing simple tasks around the house or driving long journeys.
Money will never compensate you fully for the loss of any of these things, but the clock cannot be turned back and you can never be put back in the place you were before. And failing that, money is all we’ve got.