How much is a finger worth? Is one worth more than the other?

Severing any part of one’s body is no doubt a traumatic experience and would leave a person vulnerable to job loss, emotional and financial hardship as well as a significant drop in quality of life. However, the severity of an injury of this nature and therefore the amount of compensation a victim is entitled to, is almost entirely dependent on which part of the body has been wounded. So what happens when, relatively speaking, a seemingly trivial body part such as a finger or a toe, is subject to such an injury?

INXS guitarist Tim Farriss was himself subject to such an injury, when over the Australia Day weekend of 2015, his left ring finger was completely severed during a boating accident. Understandably, Farriss is pursing legal action in the hopes of receiving financial compensation; a seemingly straight forward course of action that should produce an expected result.

Upon closer inspection however, a case of this nature raises certain questions that could affect the outcome for Mr Farriss. As a right-handed guitarist, Farriss has now lost his livelihood due to the fact that his severed finger was essential to playing the chords present in INXS’ music, “I am no longer able to play the guitar other than a few beginner-level chords.” (Farris interviewed by 7News, 2015).

Does the highly specific nature of expert-level instrumentation mean that Farriss is entitled to more compensation than say a carpenter who loses a finger on his dominant hand? A defendant could argue that you can still use your other nine fingers to swing a hammer, drive a truck or type on a keyboard…Hypothetically, what does this mean to an ambidextrous guitar player who loses the same finger? Do they receive less compensation due to the fact they can still in some regard fulfil their role as a guitarist?

No doubt that with any injury of this nature, all aspects of a victim’s lifestyle (and any subsequent loss of said lifestyle), career needs and emotional trauma are all considered when deciding a final compensation amount…But how far do these hypothetical questions raised by cases of this nature affect the final outcome?

So, how much is a finger worth?