Damage caused by sharp objects:

I tore my shirt on someone else's nail-Is he liable for damages?

Damage caused by sharp objects:

It is an act of piety for a person to hide his sharp objects [nails/glass], and any other damaging item, in an area that will not cause any potential harm/damage, such as to throw them in the river or to burn them.[1] [This applies even if the potentially damaging object is in one owns property, and not in the public area, as it is still a potential harm for family, guests and visitors.[2]] It is forbidden to place a potentially damaging object in the public area[3], unless it is publicly accepted or one has permission from the municipality to do so.[4]

Bodily injury:[5] If one placed a sharp object, such as a nail or glass, in a public area and another person became injured from the object, then if the owner did not have permission to place the item there he is liable to pay for the bodily damage of the victim.

Monetary damage:[6] If one placed a sharp object, such as a nail or glass, in a public area and another person’s item became from the object, then the owner is exempt from liability, even if he did not have a right to place it there, and was negligent in placing it there or even did so deliberately.[7] [Nevertheless, in areas that have set laws regarding these matters, it is possible to make the owner liable for monetary damages, despite the Biblical exemption.[8]]

 Summary:

Initially, one is avoid placing a damaging object in an area that can cause damage, even in one’s own property. If one was not careful to do so and it caused damage to another person, one is liable for all bodily damages caused, although is exempt from any monetary damage caused to an object.

                                                                                                 Q&A

If one’s clothing tore on a nail that was sticking out of someone’s Sukkah, are they liable to pay for the clothing?

No. This applies even if the Sukkah was placed without permission in public property.

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[1] Michaber 415/3; Baba Kama 30a

[2] Pashut from Gemara ibid and from next Halacha which prohibits placing a hazardous object in the public area; Aruch Hashulchan 415/2

[3] Michaber 417/1; Baba Kama 50b

[4] Rama ibid; Beis Yosef 417 in name of Rashba

[5] Michaber 415/1 “One who hides his nails and glass in his property and it flew into the public area and damaged another person, he is liable”; Mishneh Baba Kama 30a; The above liability is only for bodily damage and not monetary damage, as brought in sources in next footnote

[6] A “Bur” is exempt from monetary damages of vessels: Michaber 410/21; 412/4; Tur 410; Rambam Nizkei Mamon 13/2; Mishneh Baba Kama 52a; Gemara ibid 53b and 28b; A nail or other object that damages has the same status as Bur: Michaber 411/1; 412/4-5; Rambam ibid

[7] The reason: As the Av Nezikin called Bor, as well as all its subcategories, is exempt from liability of monetary damage of vessels, and is only liable for damages of animals and man. [Michaber 410/21; Tur 410; Mishneh Baba Kama 52a; Gemara ibid 53b] This is learned from the verse which states the word “Shur” and comes to exclude vessels. [Bab Kama 53b]

[8] See the following regarding the ability of a community/country to enact stricter laws than the Torah and its Halachic binding: Chevel Nachalaso 9/58; Baba Basra 8b; Meri ibid; Shut Harosh7/1; Rashba 2/268

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