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Accidentally, On Purpose: The Making of a Personal Injury Underworld in America

Ken Dornstein

7 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0312129920 / ISBN 13: 9780312129927
Published by Palgrave Macmillan, 1996
Used Condition: Good Hardcover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Accidentally, On Purpose: The Making of a ...

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Publication Date: 1996

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: Good

Edition: 1st - may be Reissue.

About this title


Accidentally on Purpose is the first book to document the making of America's most peculiar criminal underworld. Not centered on the traditional activities of organized crime, this improbable underworld has been built from the raw material of faked personal injuries.

From Kirkus Reviews:

This thoroughgoing, even encyclopedic, history of insurance fraud in America is a first-rate, ripping yarn. With its machines and speed and bustle, the Industrial Revolution saw a horrendous rise in accident rates. Train wrecks, street-car collisions, the dangerous chaos of the city, all spawned an almost endless series of mishaps. As Dornstein (a young, former private investigator specializing in insurance scams) ably demonstrates, it wasn't a far step from genuine accidents to the emergence of increasingly sophisticated and outrageous fakery--the money was just too good. He presents a Damon Ruyonesque cast of colorful rascals, from apple-peel specialists (dropping fruit peels and slipping profitably) to floppers, tumblers, and whiplashers. To make claimed injuries even more convincing, there were always ``Houses of Pain,'' where specialists would add bruising, scraping verisimilitude to a hustle. By the turn of the century, faking injuries was a big and professional business. At the bottom of the rung were the ``victims,'' often recent immigrants eager for a few extra dollars. Above them were the cappers, who arranged and packaged the cases and brought them to corrupt doctors and lawyers. While enforcement, particularly undercover investigation, has been stepped up in recent years, this underground system still generates billions of dollars in fraudulent insurance claims every year. Dornstein believes insurance companies should shoulder some of the blame; their aggressive marketing of new types of insurance policies (life insurance was once unheard of) created opportunities for fraud and reinforced the idea that someone should always be held financially responsible for accidents. And if payouts got too expensive, it was easy enough to raise premiums. Given the importance of the insurance industry to his history, Dornstein doesn't give it sufficient depth and due, the only significant oversight in this otherwise magnificently complete compendium. A bright spotlight cast on some very murky doings. (b&w illustrations) -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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