Would one be obligated to pay any of the five types of damages paid upon wounding someone, if they were to infect that someone with a viral/bacterial disease, whether through:

  1. Peshia (negligence)?
  2. Shemira Reuya (appropriate precautions)?
  3. Ones (duress)?

1 Answer 1


The Orchotecha Lamdeini Chelek 2 siman 153 talks about this, and comes to the conclusion that getting someone sick is a version of Eish - fire. Because of this, he would be obligated to pay all five types of damages, assuming he was shogeg hakarov l'meizid - negligence which is close to being intentional (and kal v'chomer if it was done completely intentionally). He includes in this any case where one knew he was sick and went out in public.

However, if the person was completely shogeg, he is only obligated to pay nezek - the amount of permanent damage caused. (The case of this brought in the gemara is where one didn't know he was carrying a stone, and it fell out of his pocket and caused damage. Likewise, if the person didn't know he was sick, he would only pay nezek.)

He doesn't talk about a case where the person took all necessary precautions and still got someone sick, but this could be compared to a case (which he mentions in passing) where someone who is building something smelly (or otherwise damaging through eish) must distance it from the public enough that a commonplace wind wouldn't cause the damage to happen. And if it ends up damaging the public anyway, he is Pattur. This would also seemingly be the case by one who did sh'mira re'uya as a sick person.

All of this is only true assuming it can be proven who passed the sickness to the infected person. Otherwise, hamotzi m'chaveiro alav hara'aya.

Also, nowadays we don't have the ability to obligate one to pay the five types of damages (accordign to the Rem"a. According to the Shu"A, we can obligate shevet and ripui), because we're only 'messangers' of the true batei din (where they had real semicha). Instead, we force the damager to appease the damaged by paying an amount that the judges feel is appropriate.

  • 1
    Fascinating teshuva, fascinating author! Thank you very much for quoting! It has so many details.
    – Binyomin
    Commented Jan 9 at 5:36

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