can't be helped. and couldn't be helped

(It) can't be helped. and (It) couldn't be helped.

Nothing can be done to help the situation.; The situation could not have been avoided. John: The accident has blocked traffic in two directions. Jane: It can't be helped. They have to get the people out of the cars and send them to the hospital. Bill: My goodness, the lawn looks dead! Sue: It can't be helped. There's no rain and water is rationed. John: I'm sorry I broke your figurine. Sue: It couldn't be helped. John: I'll replace it. Sue: That would be nice. Bill: I'm sorry I'm late. I hope it didn't mess things up. Bob: It can't be helped.
See also: and, help