The False Claims Act was passed to target fraud in government contracting and against the government. Under this act, individuals with sufficient evidence that would otherwise be unknown to the government may file a qui tam lawsuit. The False Claims Act has been an effective way for people to help the government and American taxpayers recover funds that have been wrongfully claimed. A qui tam lawyer is an attorney that specializes in representing whistleblowers in qui tam cases and helps to protect the rights of the individual who brought the case forward.
Where did the term “qui tam” originate from and who can file a qui tam lawsuit?
The term “qui tam” is a Latin word that means “in the name of the King.” Originating in England, it provided a way for the general public to bring forth any violations against the law to the King and in return, that individual would be offered a reward. The federal False Claims Act was enacted in the US in 1863. As time passed the law has been amended and modernized into what it is today. Since 1986, the law has proven to be extremely effective towards anti-fraud. As society has changed, the individual who brings forth a qui tam lawsuit is more commonly referred to as a whistleblower or “relator.”
Anyone who has sufficient information of fraud against the government could contact an attorney and file a qui tam lawsuit. Most often, individuals who bring forth such cases are the employees or former employees of a company and the company itself is committing the fraud.
What is the best way to initiate a qui tam case and how does it work?
If you have information for a qui tam case, you should bring all the relevant information you have to an experienced and qualified attorney. From there, a qui tam lawyer will investigate further and if there is sufficient evidence, then present the case to the government. When filed, all details about the case would be kept completely confidential and it would not be of knowledge to the public. At this point, the government will conduct its own investigation into the case and decide whether or not to join the individual who reported the case. It wouldn’t be until that point that the defendant would be aware of the case and an announcement could be made to the public.
How will you be protected from retaliation from the defendant and what is the incentive to come forward?
Many qui tam cases end up resolved through the negotiation of a settlement outside of the courtroom. Settlements could be as much as three times the amount of monies lost and damages to the government. Sometimes the defendants in these cases may retaliate against the whistleblower but the False Claims Act has certain protections for those individuals. If a whistleblower can show that their employment relationship has detrimentally changed in retaliation to bringing forward their complaints, they may then have the right to file a claim of retaliation.
If the whistleblower initiates a qui tam case that results in a successful outcome, that individual would earn and receive a percentage of the monetary recovery in the case. There are many variables that determine the actual percentage that a whistleblower would receive and is always on a case-by-case basis, but nonetheless, many cases have resulted in large and substantial rewards.
False claims submitted in Medicare and Medicaid are the most common types of fraud brought under the qui tam lawsuits and it’s important to bring such cases forward to a qui tam lawyer who is highly experienced in these kinds of cases.
Although most Medicare providers and drug companies operate well within the regulated system, there are instances in which some entities choose to operate outside of the rules. When this happens, it ends up costing taxpayers. If you have any knowledge of Medicare or medicaid fraud, consider consulting a Medicare or Medicaid whistleblower attorney.