Torah Portion: Mishpatim
If an ox gores a man or woman… (Shemos 21:28).
It is a positive commandment upon the court to judge the case of a damaging ox, whether it injured a man, as is written: If an ox gores a man or woman etc.(Shemos 21:28), or it damaged property, as is written: If one person’s ox injures the ox of another person (ibid. v. 35). It makes no difference whether it caused injury with its body or feet, bit with its teeth, or caused damage with its horns. Nor is this limited to specifically an ox; rather, if any domestic or wild animal at all, or a bird, did damage, their owner must pay damages.
We have stated before that all of the mitzvos given to us concerning justice have one root purpose; it is a self-understood matter, so there is no need to repeat this for each one of these mitzvos.
About these laws, known as cases of fines, we have stated earlier that they are judged only in an ordained beis din, and that only in the Land of Israel. However, by the laws of Heaven, the damager is in any case required to pay. Also, if the person who suffered the damage seized the amount of his damages from the other, it is not taken away from him.