Whistleblower or Qui Tam Law
Whistleblower or qui tam law cases are also known as false claim act cases, and these cases allow the government a way to recover funds lost to fraud by companies or other individuals. These fraud cases are typically seen within the medical industry and through contractors who perform jobs for the government, and they can wind up costing the government, and subsequently US taxpayers, millions of dollars due to fraudulent costs.
Examples of Fraud
Many different types of fraud can be considered grounds for whistleblower or qui tam law cases, and these fraud cases can take valuable funds away from government agencies that need them to better the people of the United States. Veterans, the elderly, or the sick can find themselves to be unknowing victims of these fraud cases, making it incredibly important that these fraud cases be brought to light in order to recover the funds lost.
One example of this type of fraud is a pharmaceutical company billing Medicare incorrectly for medications, and upping the prices in order to gain a larger profit for the medications sold. It is estimated that fraud cases involving Medicare and Medicaid cost the United States government around $31 billion per year, and these funds are being fraudulently taken from agencies that serve those in need throughout the country.
United States law protects employees who report cases of fraud, or “blow the whistle” on their employer. An employee may not lose their personal safety or be punished for reporting these fraud cases, and they are encouraged to do so to help the government to recover these taxpayer funds.
How Whistleblower or Qui Tam Laws Work
The employee or person who reports the fraud is deemed to be the relator during the course of the case, and their level of involvement will vary depending on the stage of the case and the case itself. The relator is protected by law, and they will often receive a substantial reward if fraud is found. This reward is typically a percentage of around 15 to 20% of the funds recovered, which can amount to a significant amount of money depending on the case at hand, making it very beneficial for those who are aware of fraud to bring the fraudulent actions to the attention of the federal government.
The first thing a relator should do once they have accumulated the evidence necessary to prove fraud is hire a skilled qui tam law attorney to represent them during the case. Once the qui tam lawsuit is filed, it is then considered to be under seal from all entities besides the relator and the United States government. This allows the Justice Department the time they need to sufficiently investigate the case and determine just what type of fraud is being committed, and how much it may cost the government agencies it affects.
Once a case has been investigated, the government may then decide to either join or intervene in the case depending on the evidence or proof found. The government will join in the majority of cases, and this will often prove to provide a greater chance for the relator to gain a reward from the lawsuit. The sealing of the case will often last for 60 days, but extensions may be filed if the government finds that more investigation is necessary to build a sufficient case against the company or entity committing fraud.
The seal may be partially lifted by the government to allow discussion to commence with the entity being accused in order to begin or gain a feel for how negotiations will be carried out. Qui tam cases are often settled by negotiations with the offending party, however if a settlement amount is unable to be reached, the case will then be taken to court.
It is not rare for companies or other entities found guilty of fraud to pay back 2 or 3 times the amount they are found to have fraudulently taken from the government through settlement payments as well as penalty fees.
The False Claims Act of 1863
Whistleblower laws first came into place during the false claims act of 1863, when fraud was found to have occurred during the American Civil War. This act allowed those who reported fraud to collect a reward for their efforts in uncovering these fraudulent acts, and protected whistleblowers from any type of harm or legal action for ousting instances of fraud against the government. Since that time, qui tam law cases have been proven to be very effective in bringing fraud to light and recovering government funds.
The Importance of a Qui Tam Law Attorney
When a relator files a qui tam lawsuit against their employer, a company, or another entity, the importance of a skilled qui tam law attorney should never be understated. Qui tam laws of the United States can be complicated and complex, and these attorneys will be skilled in all aspects of the laws surrounding fraud cases as well as the best way to carry out a case to ensure success. Also, the attorney will be working with the government in the investigations into the alleged fraud, so it is best to choose an attorney who has proven success in the field. These cases can last for any length of time, from months to years, and the right attorney will be able to work through the entire duration of the case to ensure a reward for their client.