If you are considering a whistleblower lawsuit, you may be unsure how the process will work, whether you have enough information to get started, and with whom you should discuss your case. These feelings of apprehension or uncertainty are common in the realm of qui tam lawsuits, as these cases often involve voluminous records and possible involvement by federal agencies. Answers to the following frequently asked questions will hopefully ease your trepidation about the whistleblower lawsuit process and prepare you for your first consultation with an experienced qui tam attorney.
FAQ #1 – I think I might be aware of fraud, but I’m not sure. How much evidence do I need to get started?
This is a common concern with plaintiffs at the outset of the litigation process. Many times, an individual is aware or sees activity that appears fraudulent but the person is not completely sure. For example, individuals working in the healthcare industry may begin to notice billing practices that do not seem to line up with the actual services rendered to the patient, but the employee cannot say with absolute certainty that the conduct violates the False Claims Act.
If you see activity that appears fraudulent, there is a chance it may be – and the best first step is to contact a whistleblower attorney right away. Under the law, you must be the original source of the information, meaning you derived your knowledge of the fraud from a firsthand account and not from public documents or an ongoing investigation. Upon meeting with your attorney, you will decide together whether the conduct likely violates the False Claims Act and the best course of action moving forward.
FAQ #2 – How does the whistleblower lawsuit process get started?
Any individual wishing to file a claim under the False Claims Act must do so with the help of a whistleblower attorney. The process commences by filing a complaint in federal district court alleging the instances of fraud, how the conduct violates the FCA (or similar applicable statute), and the amount of money the plaintiff believes the defendant stole from the government.
FAQ #3 – When does the federal government get involved?
The federal government can get involved with your whistleblower case in the event it chooses to intervene. It is up to the discretion of the Department of Justice whether to intervene in a case and it is not uncommon for the government to decline this option. However, if the government opts to join you in your whistleblower case, it will implement its own investigative tools and resources to unearth the true extent of the fraudulent activity. It is not uncommon for the government to join forces with the FBI or Department of Health and Human Services in order to bring fraud to light.
FAQ #4 – How much money can I collect through a whistleblower lawsuit?
The reward you receive for your willingness to come forward can be sizable, and it is not unheard of for whistleblower plaintiffs to receive six- or seven-figure rewards. Under the provisions of the False Claims Act, a plaintiff may receive between 15 and 30 percent of the total settlement or recovery amount.
FAQ #5 – How do I find an attorney to help me through the process?
If you have information involving fraud against the government, you will need an attorney with an intimate and extensive knowledge of whistleblower laws, including the False Claims Act and similar statutes. To find an attorney with the requisite experience to handle your whistleblower case, contact Berger Montague today.