North Dakota Ski Law

The “Skiing Responsibility Act” can be found at N.D. Cent. Code §§ 53-09-01 to 53-09-10. Operator duties are set out in § 53-09-03, and include signage and warning requirements. Skier and passenger duties are set forth in §§ 53-09-05, 53-09-04 and include skiing within ones ability, heeding warnings, and avoiding injury to others. Skiers expressly assume the inherent risks of skiing. Under § 53-09-07, operators are liable for their own breach of statutory duties, but are not liable where a skier or passenger has committed a breach causally related to their injury. Parties are completely barred from recovery resulting from inherent risks, and where they can be shown to have “knowingly exposed” themselves to a real or potential risk. Id. at § 53-09-10.


The statutory bar on skier recovery resulting from an inherent risk in skiing is not in conflict with the state’s modified comparative fault statute (§ 32-03.2-02), nor are the enumerated operator duties an exhaustive list of duties owed, per Bouchard v. Johnson, 555 N.W.2d 81 (N.D. 1996). Bouchard also held that a ski operator can not be held liable if the design of the ski run creates natural conditions necessary for the enjoyment of the sport, and the design is so obviously dangerous that skier must be found to have assumed the risk. Olson v. Bismarck Parks and Recreation Dist., 642 N.W.2d 864 (N.D. 2002) (recreation use statute successfully used by non-charging golf course to fend off suit by sledders).