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Is There a Difference Between Whistleblower Attorneys and Qui Tam Attorneys?

Qui Tam Attorneys

Qui Tam AttorneysQui tam attorneys offer invaluable consultation and representation to whistleblowers. A whistleblower is anyone who reports illegal activity occurring in an organization. In contrast to the disgruntled employee who attempts to discredit a company by spreading rumors, the whistleblower has hard evidence to support his or her claims. While some alarm sounders in past times have been former employees of an organization, a whistleblower can be anyone with facts.

When considering the various sub-divisions within the overarching field of whistleblower law, qui tam justice emerges as one division. But just what is this area of law, and is it any different from whistleblowing?

Here are answers to some of the questions you may have regarding qui tam attorneys:

What Is Qui Tam Law?

Qui tam is a division of whistleblower law that specifically seeks to protect the government from fraud. The area covers various government programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, and protects individuals who report deception to the government.

Can You Give an Example of Qui Tam Law?

Individuals who reap the benefits of Medicaid when they can pay for personal insurance defraud the government by withholding information about their income. They report gross earnings that are well below the poverty line to qualify for Medicaid all while bringing in wages that can fully support their way of life. These individuals may just claim Medicaid, or they may take things a step further by using the income reported to qualify for other government funded programs. Reporting such activity to the proper authorities would fall under qui tam law since government programs are involved.

How Does a Successful Qui Tam Case Impact the Economy?

The government spends billions of dollars every year on programs that suffer from extortion. Your willingness to blow the whistle on such illegal practices keeps money in the system.   This allows the government to fund other efforts that would ordinarily go on the back burner due to low capital.

In What Way Is the Whistleblower Protected in a Qui Tam Case?

The False Claims Act serves as a shield for those who place their reputation on the line for reporting fraud. According to the statute, whistleblowers are to be rewarded in instances where their tip allowed the government to recover some or all of funds lost. Experienced qui tam attorneys ensure their clients receive what is due regarding payment.

What Else Does the False Claims Act Do?

The regulation gives any citizen the right to report fraud.  Whether or not the citizen has a direct affiliation with the company or person committing the act, he or she can file a fraud report.  The law also ensures that suits are “under seal”.  This means the whistleblower can remain completely anonymous throughout the investigation process. Cases are usually “under seal” for 60 days but typically there is an extension by a judge who gives the government time to partner with qui tam attorneys and look into the matter.

How Does a Qui Tam Case Come to a Resolution?

Just as with an ordinary whistleblower case, all evidence is weighed to determine whether or not there is a crime. The government takes action against the company or person responsible and rewards the whistleblower if there has been a violation. The government will not provide payment to the alarm sounder if it determines the evidence is not substantial or factual.

Bothwell Law Group protects whistleblowers and brings fraudsters to justice. Call us to learn more about qui tam law and our qui tam attorneys online.

Why You Need a Qui Tam Lawyer Specifically for Your Case

qui tam lawyer

qui tam lawyerA qui tam lawyer is a unique legal professional experienced enough to handle a unique type of lawsuit. Most lawyers focus on particular types of law or litigating certain types of lawsuits, and qui tam lawyers are no different. Therefore, if you’re thinking about starting your whistleblower lawsuit and need a lawyer, you’re best off hiring a qui tam attorney.

Qui Tam Lawsuits Are Unique

Qui tam lawsuits are special, not just because of the legal issues, but the procedural rules and processes. For example, unlike most lawsuits where the individual can choose to represent themselves pro se, there is no pro se option for qui tam lawsuits. This is due to the underlying basis of a qui tam lawsuit – the whistleblower is suing a defendant on behalf of the government. Understandably, the government doesn’t want a non-lawyer handling a lawsuit that’s potentially worth a lot of money.

Because a whistleblower must hire an attorney, they may try to save money by finding someone who’s not familiar with qui tam litigation. This is a very unwise thing to do. In certain areas of the law, lawyers can take on cases new to them; that’s because the lawyers are only required to learn new law. Most of the other court rules and procedures remain the same. This means the attorney can dabble in an unfamiliar area of the law and still provide high-quality legal services.

For lawyers who don’t normally practice qui tam law, they must not only learn a new type of law, but court rules and procedures, too. While some lawyers may be able to learn the law and court rules necessary to successfully present a client in a qui tam lawsuit, they will need to do a lot of “learning on the fly.” This results in the lawyer not being able to provide the best possible legal representation possible. If a whistleblower chooses an attorney that has to learn on the fly, they’re almost assured a lower quality of legal assistance than if the whistleblower hired an attorney who specifically handles qui tam cases.

Other Reasons a Qui Tam Lawyer Should Handle Your Case

Because many qui tam lawsuits take years to complete, potential whistleblowers must find a lawyer who has the resources and patience to see a case through for decades. Most lawsuits don’t last that long, but a qui tam lawsuit taking several years to complete is quite common. A qui tam lawyer understands this and will, therefore, have the resources and ability to pursue the case for the long haul.

A second reason for using a qui tam lawyer to handle your case is their relationship with the government. Since getting the government to take on your case is so important for its chances of success, it’s nice to hire an attorney who can communicate effectively with the government officials who will decide whether to take on the case for the government.

A good relationship will also be useful should the government choose to take on your case. This is because even though the government will take a lead role once they decide to “intervene,” they will need your assistance and cooperation for the majority of the lawsuit. Having a qui tam lawyer will make this cooperation as smooth and effective as possible.

A third reason to look for a qui tam lawyer is that they’re more able to assess the chances of success. As mentioned previously, qui tam lawsuits can take a long time. Add the fact that one of the major motivations for starting a qui tam lawsuit is the reward, and it’s easy to understand how accurately predicting the success of a lawsuit is very useful.

While no lawyer can predict the outcome of a lawsuit with 100% accuracy (and in fact, the professional and ethical rules usually prohibit lawyers from making definite predictions), a lawyer who works in the qui tam area of law can provide a clearer picture regarding what to expect and the chances of success.

A fourth reason to choose a qui tam lawyer is for their help with gathering evidence. Due to their experience with qui tam lawsuits, they can provide the best advice when it comes to gathering additional documents and information to help your case and allow the government to fully investigate the fraud.

Need a Qui Tam Lawyer?

If you think you may have a qui tam lawsuit, you’re going to need a qui tam lawyer. You can find one by contacting our skilled attorneys at Bothwell Law Group by calling 770-643-1606 now.

What Does a Health Care Qui Tam Attorney Need to Prove a Case?

health care qui tam attorney

health care qui tam attorneyA health care qui tam attorney needs a case that involves a direct party—usually an employee or former employee—bringing a case of fraud against the government. It’s a case filed under the False Claims Act, which was developed to protect the government against fraud. Many circumstances leading to fraud involve

Medicare or Medicaid, both of which are federally regulated programs to pay for medical services. Health care qui tam cases can also include nursing home fraud, pharmaceutical fraud, medical device fraud, hospice or home health fraud and healthcare scams.

Here are a few examples of health care fraud activities that might be involved:

  • Billing for services not provided
  • Billing for more expensive services than the ones performed
  • Delivering more expensive services than were medically needed
  • Misrepresenting the diagnosis to justify payment
  • Creating false documentation to support payment
  • Billing under the provider number of a different doctor than the one who performed the procedure
  • Performing medical procedures without a physician supervising
  • Backdating procedures for a time the patient was insured
  • Kickbacks and Stark Law violations
  • Billing for “overflow” of medicine
  • Off-label marketing of pharmaceuticals

You may wonder if the information you have is enough to file a health care qui tam case. While every case is individual, knowing the basics of what an attorney needs to prove a case could help you determine if you’re heading in the right direction.

It’s like packing for the family summer vacation. If you leave everything to memory and guesswork, you’ll likely forget something important. If you make a list of all the essentials, you stand a much better chance of getting to where you’re going with everything you need. You know that will save you time- and probably a whole lot of hassle and expense than if you just pack off the cuff.

Here are some things your health care qui tam attorney needs to prove a case:

Your Health Care Qui Tam Attorney Needs to Know the Timeframe

One of the first things to knock off your qui tam case checklist is when the fraudulent activities took place. There is a statute of limitations of six years in false claims acts. Some circumstances fall outside this boundary, but your attorney needs to know when the fraud took place.

Documentation of dates can be one of the most powerful pieces of evidence in a health care qui tam case. This record will serve to prove the timeframe is within the statute of limitations.

Your Health Care Qui Tam Attorney Needs to Have Credible Information of Fraud

You may be aware of fraudulent activity at your place of employment due to your expertise and experience. Your health care qui tam attorney will talk with you about the information you are aware of and help determine if it is credible enough to provide the basis of a case. This information may be verbal, or you may have physical evidence. Physical evidence is tricky and can be difficult to obtain. Talk with an attorney who is knowledgeable about false claim act suits and he or she will be able to determine the credibility of what you know.

When you meet with your health care qui tam attorney, bring any proof you have as evidence of the fraudulent act. Your evidence can include things like receipts, copies of fraudulent paperwork or bookwork and other items that may be in your possession. Your attorney will have a staff to investigate and gather evidence and will assist you in determining if that evidence is sufficient for a qui tam case.

Your Health Care Qui Tam Attorney Needs to Determine If You Are an Original Source

Only one person can bring a particular qui tam case. If the fraud has already come to the attention of the government, you cannot bring a separate case. Your attorney will research and find out if you are the original source of the alleged fraud. Your information comes from inside information, if you are the primary source, not from something you read about or heard about somewhere else.

Your Health Care Qui Tam Attorney Needs Knowledge to Prove a Case

It’s important to choose an attorney who knows qui tam law in the health care field. The details matter in any lawsuit and with qui tam cases there are an awful lot of rules and regulations governing every aspect of the process. Also, if the government chooses not to intervene, you need an attorney with the wisdom to know if you should proceed on your own or not. Choose an attorney who has successfully argued health care qui tam cases in the past, so you can trust he or she will make solid decisions.

Learn more about the benefits of using a health care qui tam attorney by contacting the Bothwell Law Group online.

What Is the Qui Tam Procedure and Who Manages It?

Qui Tam Procedure

Qui Tam ProcedureThe qui tam procedure is quite different from a typical lawsuit. The steps involved are detailed and numerous, with several potential trip-ups scattered throughout. Here are the basics of what you need to know about the whole process:

Step 1: File the Civil Complaint.

A “relator” (aka- any normal human being) files a civil suit on behalf of the government. The suit is filed under seal for 60 days, meaning the defendant is not made aware of it at the time it’s filed. Because it is filed under seal, it is important you do not discuss the details of the case with anyone other than your lawyer. Doing so can violate the seal and cause the case to be rejected, or thrown out, based on the technicality.

Step 2: The Government Investigates.

Depending on the scope and magnitude of the allegations, the government can file an extension of the seal for as long it deems necessary. This can extend the process to well over a year.

During that time, the government reviews the information and proof you have gathered and also conducts its own investigation. Because this can include thousands of claims spread over numerous years, it’s easy to understand why this part can eat up so much time.

Step 3: The Government Intervenes. Or not.

Based on the strength of the case, the government may decide to intervene, or join your case. This means they are deciding to take over the action in its entirety. You and your counsel likely need to do nothing further.

However, if they decide not to intervene, you have the right to continue to pursue the action on behalf of the government. This is the gut check moment for you and your attorney because you no longer have the clout of Uncle Sam standing beside you. Further, if the court finds in the defendant’s favor, and believes you filed the suit as a means of harassment against them, you will be held liable not only for your own attorney fees, but theirs as well.

Step 4: The Court Rules.

After trial, the Court will provide its ruling in your case. In the event the Court finds in your favor, you may be entitled to up to 30% of the award. However, this amount can be reduced under any of the following conditions:

  • The government intervened and carried the case through to completion.
  • You were an integral part of planning and perpetrating the fraud in question.
  • You are convicted of criminal conduct as a result of your role in the fraud.

Roles and Responsibilities Between Relator and Attorney

The attorney you hire will represent you throughout the duration of your case. Typically, the attorney is paid from any proceeds arising from a recovery, allowing individuals with strong cases and few financial means to proceed with their case without hardship.

This agreement is referred to as a “contingent representation contract.” The law firm will agree to absorb any of the costs of the litigation and supplies legal knowledge, experience, and hours of service in return for costs covered by the final ruling and a portion of any recovery.

Additional Qui Tam Procedure Questions We Didn’t Cover?

You can learn more about qui tam procedure by contacting our team at Bothwell Law Group at 770.643.1606.

Who Pays for a Qui Tam Law Firm?

Qui Tam Law Firm

Qui Tam Law FirmWhen working with a qui tam law firm, one of the first questions you’re probably going to ask is, “How much will this case cost me?” It’s a reasonable question. You want to know how much you’ll be paying out of pocket, and what the impacts might be for you and your family.

While we can’t speak for every law firm, there is a general pattern most reputable firms follow. Keep reading to learn about the costs you can expect to incur at various stages throughout the process.

Initial Fees: Filing a Qui Tam or False Claims Lawsuit

To initiate your lawsuit, you will be required to cover a few small expenses. Generally speaking, there will be a court filing fee, and some administrative costs you will have to pay. However, in the event you win your case, you will be reimbursed for these expenses out of your settlement. You also have the right to request it directly as part of the settlement; something your attorney should be happy to provide.

Continuing the Qui Tam Lawsuit

As the lawsuit and settlement run their course, you’re unlikely to have to pay your attorney anything. This is because most attorneys operate on a contingency fee arrangement. This means they agree to a share of the recovered monies, and they take their expenses from the resulting settlement amount.

There is also a strong possibility that the defendant will be required to cover all statutory fees. Again, this is only in cases where you receive a favorable settlement, but you are entitled to ask for it under the False Claims statutes.

What Happens If You Lose the False Claims Case?

Honestly, it depends. Most contingent fee clauses stipulate fees will only become due and payable upon successful conclusion of the defined scope of legal work. While this usually means a favorable outcome (i.e. the court awards you money, or you reach a favorable settlement outside the courtroom), you should pay close attention to the wording of the contract.

There is the possibility that your lawyer will define a successful conclusion as ANY outcome. This means you may be on the hook for the fees you’ve incurred to this point, even if you don’t win anything in the way of monetary compensation.

What Does All This Mean In the End?

Bottom line? You can file and take your case quite a considerable distance with very little money out of pocket. Just be sure to pay close attention to the documents you are signing, and what the limitations are with regards to a payout of attorney fees at the end of an unsuccessful case.

How Can You Learn More About Qui Tam Representation?

Call 770.643.1606 to find out more about our qui tam law firm by contacting Bothwell Law Group online.