Cruise lines utilize a number of weapons and shields to maximize their corporate profits at the expense of injured passengers. Since 1991, our cruise ship personal injury law firm has represented and protected the legal rights of thousands of people hurt aboard cruise ships around the world, and we believe the single biggest and most dangerous trick of the cruise industry is how they misuse the Cruise Ship Passenger Injury Statement Form.

The most common scenario goes a little like this: Imagine a 55-year-old dentist from Burlington, Iowa, on her first cruise . .

“I am on a cruise, the sun is out, the cool tropical breeze gently flows across the deck, and I am wearing my swimsuit, flip-flops, and have a towel draped across my right shoulder. In one hand is the latest issue of People magazine, purchased with the intended purpose of reading about Bruce Jenner’s gender transition.

“I am wearing sunglasses, and I would love a drink, something with coconut and one of those umbrellas–I don’t want my drink to get too hot, either. The next thing I know, I am flying–not that bird-up-in-the-air flight, but the sudden loss of all sense of what is up and what is down. It happens fast, in the blink of an eye, but each millisecond before impact feels as though I can splice the film microscopically–frame by frame–until I hear a loud thud. It’s the kind of noise one easily associates with pain, or perhaps it is the other way around, because the minute I hit the ground, I am in pain.

“It takes me a second, though it seems like minutes, to realize where I am. I forgot that I am on a cruise, on a vacation, out at sea somewhere. I just feel pain. I try to get up, but I cannot. At my side in an instant is a small child, holding a sippy cup and pointing and laughing. “Funny woman, do that again,” he demands, clearly thinking I must be part of the shipboard entertainment.

“His mother, soon by his side, urges him to stop laughing and asks me, in Mandarin Chinese if I am okay, need help, or . . . I am not sure since I don’t speak Mandarin or even know if it is Mandarin. A minute or two or ten later, I cannot tell, a Carnival crew member comes with a wheelchair, helps me into it, and pushes me past the rows of sunbaked passengers into an elevator and down to the ship’s infirmary.

“Once there, I am asked my name, medications, and what hurts. I point to my swollen, black-and-blue right ankle. X-rays are taken, but I don’t understand the results, and soon, I am being wheeled back to the scene by a burly man who says he is part of the ship’s security team. He asks me to point to where I fell; I show him, and he wheels me to the side where he hands me a clipboard and pad and pencil and asks me to fill out some paper work. One of the pages is an innocent looking form that has a small line or two intended for me to explain how and where and why I fell.

“I am in pain, and I don’t understand the form or the reason behind it. I just want the pounding in my ankle to stop.”

I have sued cruise lines like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Norwegian for decades on behalf of people who have slipped, tripped, and fallen during their cruises. This form, or one similar to it, is used frequently by every cruise line as a tool that will later come back and often hurt or destroy a passenger’s claim.

I see virtually every day how a cruise line’s defense lawyer will cross-examine passengers about what they wrote or failed to write on those Cruise Ship Passenger Injury statement forms. They are dangerous and if filled out incompletely or in error, they can deprive claimants in cruise ship personal injury cases of all or most of the compensation they would otherwise be legally entitled to receive.

For that reason, we urge all those who have been injured aboard a cruise ship simply to refuse to fill out a statement form, or even to discuss the issues surrounding how and why they have fallen or how the accident happened until they have had an opportunity to discuss the matter with a lawyer. We believe that cruise lines should be compelled to administer a Miranda-like warning to injured passengers advising them of their legal rights to seek counsel and the significance of how and why the form will be utilized in the event they bring a claim or lawsuit against the cruise line.

This may seem like too much effort, but a quick and private SKYPE or cell call to an experienced lawyer may make the difference between obtaining fair and reasonable compensation for your accident and receiving less or even nothing.

For this reason, we offer anyone hurt onboard a cruise ship a free and confidential initial consultation–either by phone, SKYPE, Facetime, or email during your cruise or as soon as you arrive in port, anywhere in the world.

We are passionate about holding cruise lines accountable for putting their profits ahead of passenger safety. One of the most effective ways we can help people obtain the compensation they may be entitled to for lost wages, medical expenses, loss of cruise, and pain and suffering is to intervene as early as possible between them and the cruise ship’s security and investigation team. Clearly, the cruise line employs a team to protect and secure its money; passengers deserve the same level of professional guidance, too.