Qui Tam Lawyers
They’re a means of helping the government to stop the perpetration of various types of fraud, and qui tam lawyers are the people who assist the whistleblowers.
Fraud and the False Claims Act
The False Claims Act works to reward whistleblowers who help the government to recover funds that were distributed fraudulently, in instances like defense contractor fraud, Medicaid and Medicare fraud, and myriad other frauds that adversely affect the government. It also helps the government to recover monies that are stolen from taxpayers and the US treasury, but does not include securities violations and tax frauds – those are handled separately.
People who report these types of fraud (the whistleblowers) frequently take risks that could adversely impact them personally and professionally – risks that they take willingly to stop frauds that can endanger soldiers, patients and others. The Act protects these whistleblowers, but because of the complexity of the lawsuits involved, it would be very foolish whistleblower who didn’t obtain effective legal representation.
Anyone Can Sue
Under the terms of the False Claims Act, any citizen can sue a business or an individual that is working to defraud the US government, and can recover funds on behalf of the government. The person or business being sued will never be told who brought the action. Qui tam lawyers file the lawsuit, and the whistleblower’s identity is kept secret. If the case is successful, the whistleblower receives a reward.
It is possible for a whistleblower, with the assistance of his or her attorneys, to bring a lawsuit on his or her own, but it is generally more successful when the government joins. The government will work with the whistleblower’s lawyer to investigate the case, and then decide whether or not to proceed.
Under the provisions of the False Claims Act, a qui tam case is sealed for a period of 60 days. The seal can be extended repeatedly in order to allow the government sufficient time to investigate the allegations and then make a determination as to whether or not to join the case. Sometimes, these investigations can go on for years. During this time, the party being investigated will not even know about the qui tam case.
Frequently, though, the government will petition the court to lift the seal so that the allegations can be discussed with the accused person or entity, and the possibility of a settlement can be discussed. Most of the time, qui tam lawyers will settle the case and it will not go to trial. Sometimes, however, a trial may be necessary.
In qui tam cases, the reward that the whistleblower receives will depend on a variety of factors, including how successful the whistleblower’s lawyers were in recovering the funds, either through settling or a trial. Usually, the whistleblower will receive anywhere from 15% to 25% of the funds recovered if the government becomes involved. If the whistleblower pursues the case on his own, with the assistance of qui tam lawyers, the reward will be between 25% and 30% of the amount recovered.
The chances of succeeding in a qui tam case are, of course, significantly better with the assistance of qualified qui tam lawyers. If you or someone you know is considering becoming a whistleblower, we urge you to seek effective legal representation in order to protect your interests, preserve your anonymity, and ensure that you are appropriately rewarded for your actions on behalf of the United States government.