A person is liable in damages for an accident if there is damnum injuria datum– loss caused by wrong. For there to be a wrong, there must be a duty of care- if it is reasonably forseeable that the wrong, negligent failure to take a reasonable precaution, may cause an accident, and the accident happens, then there is liability.
The footbridge at Bedford station is not particularly slippery, but if someone did slip or trip on it, the question of liability is whether there was a reasonable precaution to take which had a good chance of preventing the fall or the hurt. Such a precaution might be, covering the surface with something less slippery.
That precaution would still be available whether or not there are warning signs of the risk. What caused the accident? The carelessness of the person who fell, or the slipperiness of the surface? Both. The person who walks or runs over the footbridge is aware that surfaces can be slippery.
I find the warning signs patronising, as if I do not know that hurrying on a slippery surface increases the risk of falling. So, placing the warning sign there is not a useful precaution to prevent accidents. It tells no-one anything they do not know already. Instead, its purpose is to blame the other. You hurried, you fell, it is your fault: it attempts a moral defence. It is not effective as a legal one: in law the question is whether a different surface is a reasonable precaution against accidents.
That works, for me, as a moral argument. Our society is too litigious. The solicitors’ haiku:
Have you stubbed your toe? There must be someone to blame. Come. Sue him with us.
But then, I have slipped and fallen in the street but not injured myself.
Actually, I felt my usual irritation seeing that on the station foot bridge, but by the time I was down the stairs- shockingly, without holding the hand rail, you will be glad to know that I was uninjured- I had forgotten it. I stood on the platform for ten minutes, enjoying the sunshine, the quiet and the trees.
Also on Bedford: it is a much better shopping centre than Swanston, with Next and M&S, but I could not be bothered. A few days before, I had got chatting to a man on the bus when I went to shut the window and he objected. He told me that he had moved from Bedford because it was full of “supplicants”. I dislike his use of the term- we talk of benefit “claimants” because there is a moral right to a reasonable level of support, which one “claims” rather than begs.