Learn more about how to hire a lawyer for whistleblowers if you need to report fraud.
You may need to hire a lawyer for whistleblowers if you’ve decided to file suit on behalf of the government. The False Claims Act (FCA) covers the majority of these cases, although other such laws exist. These cases generally involve filing false claims for payment with the federal government. Whistleblowers still incur risks, although they have some protection against retaliation. An attorney can also give your lawsuit a better chance of stopping a corrupt business practice.
Your search for the right attorney doesn’t have to be arduous, but you do need to make it with care. Hiring the right attorney is important in whistleblower cases because they’re extraordinarily complex. The following discussion shows what you should look for in a whistleblower attorney.
Becoming a Whistleblower
A whistleblower can be anyone who comes forward with information on wrongdoing. However, it usually refers to someone who reports fraud against the government. Whistleblower cases involving federal healthcare programs and defense contracting are the most common. They also include fraud cases in the financial industry, especially IRS tax fraud. Whistleblowers perform a public service by uncovering these activities. They can provide far-reaching benefits for the government and the general public.
Becoming a whistleblower requires original, provable evidence related to the false claims. Information on the internet isn’t original unless you’re the source. Rumor and innuendo aren’t provable information. You need to have records that provide hard facts such as names, places, dates, and situations.
Whistleblowers can receive part of the damages the government recovers under the FCA. The amount varies from 15 to 30 percent of the total recovery. The percentage is less if the government joins the case. The value of the information from the whistleblower also helps determine the amount of the award. The relevance and amount of information are the most important factors in determining its value. Recoveries in a whistleblower case are typically quite large. The main reason for this is the recovery amount is three times the value of the damages.
Furthermore, each false claim can also incur a civil penalty of up to $11,000. Some of these suits include hundreds of individual claims. That means the civil penalties alone can be significant in a whistleblower case. Whistleblowers can also recover legal expenses from the defendant if the suit succeeds.
Ensure you work directly with a law firm when searching for a whistleblower attorney. Many of the web sites for whistleblower cases are actually from referral services. These services collect information about your case and pass it along to a law firm in exchange for a fee.
The main problem with a referral service is it will only pass your information to one of their clients. This may mean that lawyer isn’t the best choice for your case. A website that doesn’t list any lawyers is a major clue that you’re dealing with a referral service. Another sign is a website that doesn’t list a physical address.
Experience Relative to Your Case
Many types of whistleblower cases exist. Ensure you get an attorney with experience in your particular type of case. Assume for example that you’re filing a lawsuit involving Medicare fraud. You don’t want an attorney who has only tried cases involving defense contractor fraud. If you’re filing a suit on securities fraud, you need an attorney experienced in SEC claims.
The complexity of whistleblower cases also means they require resources. A single competent attorney can handle many types of legal matters. However, a whistleblower case routinely requires a team of attorneys. Only the first whistleblower to file gets to bring the case, so it usually takes many lawyers to file a case first. Attorneys in whistleblower cases often need to hire consultants to bolster the case. These attorneys also need to have good contacts with the U.S. Attorney’s office.
The Importance of Reputation as You Hire a Lawyer for Whistleblowers
A lawyer’s reputation is always a critical factor to consider. However, it’s particularly important with whistleblower cases. The length of these cases means you’ll be working closely with your attorney for an extended period. An attorney whose judgment you trust increases the probability of a favorable outcome.
Understanding Associated Fees
Ensure you understand how a law firm does business before you retain its services. Whistleblower attorneys typically work on a contingency basis. This means you pay their fees from any money you receive from the case. You should look elsewhere if an attorney in a whistleblower case wants to bill you upfront or by the hour.
For more information about finding the right lawyer for whistleblowers, contact the Bothwell Law Group for the experience and knowledge you need for your case.