Have you recently been in a situation where you have been witness to activities that can be considered fraudulent or unethical? It is likely that these things do happen every once in a while, and in a majority of cases, keep happening unperturbed either because no one gets to learn about it, or are too scared to come forward and do something about it in spite of learning about it. If you do know about a specific instance of wrongdoing and have solid evidence to expose the perpetrators, it is a noble and heroic thing to try to achieve that. This is what qui tam lawsuits are for, and before you engage in one, there are various things that you need to know.
Qui tam cases, also known as whistleblower cases, are instances where someone having knowledge of unethical or fraudulent practices comes forward and literally blows the whistle, initiating legal processes and an investigation into the matter. Operating under the False Claims act, this kind of suit might not be brought about by someone who has directly been harmed, but by any interested party with the required information and evidence. When such a claim is successfully closed, the whistleblower or relator can be rewarded with a percentage of the recovery.
If you are currently contemplating coming forward as a whistleblower, you need to know exactly what qualifies in the category of whistleblower cases. Things like overbilling for medical aid, overcharging for services or goods under a government contract and purposeful accounting fraud can come under the purview of this Act, and so can things like bribing foreign officials, grant manipulation, manipulation of securities and commodities, tax fraud and off-label prescription of medication. If you have witnessed anything remotely similar to this, you can consider coming forward, provided your evidence or information is not based on something that has already been made public.
Let us delve a little deeper into whistleblower policy and qui tam lawsuit procedures. There are quite a few considerations to make here, as this is a complex area of law. Here are some important points —
Getting the Timing Right – One of the main things about whistleblower cases is that the first registered case effectively pre-empts all other cases, if any, and is the only case eligible for a reward. That, coupled with the drive to stop wrongdoing, should be enough to warrant you to come forward as quickly as possible when you have enough material to do so. Once you have come forward, however, you need to be patient as these cases take a lot of time to unravel and finally get resolved.
Whistleblower Protection – There are certain provisions in the law that guarantee your protection, but you should also know that coming forward as a whistleblower might have tangible and intangible impacts on your personal and professional life, and you may face certain kinds of backlash. More than 20% of people who report wrongdoings face some kind of retaliation or the other, and you should be prepared for this.
Hiring the Right Legal Help – This might well be the most important part of a qui tam case. When coming forward as a whistleblower, it is absolutely imperative to ensure that you hire the right whistleblower attorney. This is an intricate, complex and convoluted area of the law about which very few lawyers have the adequate knowledge and experience, which makes choosing the right whistleblower lawyer imperative to your chance of success. Also, these cases tend to be drawn out and require substantial resources, so hiring a lawyer with a legal team to help out can be crucial.
The Right Evidence – When it comes to having any chance of success at whistleblower cases, it usually all comes down to the evidence. Before coming forward, it is extremely essential to check and double check that you have convincing, persuasive corroborative evidence that cannot be brought into question.
Keeping these points in mind will help you considerably if you are on your way to come out as a whistleblower, and can make the path to success smoother, helping you weed out wrongdoers and getting suitably rewarded for your noble actions.