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Whistleblower Claims

One of the most misunderstood areas of the law are whistleblower/qui tam claims. While many people have an idea of what a whistleblower is, they are uncertain about what protections exist for those that do “blow the whistle” when fraud is discovered against the government.

Generally speaking these types of claims are filed under the Federal False Claims Act (if the federal government is defrauded) or, in Illinois, under the Whistleblower Reward and Protection Act. The Illinois act protects the state government from being defrauded.

Simply put, a whistleblower is someone who discovers fraud against the government and then files a law suit on behalf of the government. While this may sound simple, it rarely is. An example is usually a good way to make a point, and in this instance, it may be helpful to understand what may be classified as a whistleblower cause of action.

Let’s say that you happen to work for a doctor or other health care professional who sees Medicare patients on a regular basis. You do the office books and over time you have noticed that the others in the office are over inflating the amount of time spent with these patients. Instead of the usual 15 minute period, they are claiming 45 minutes. Herein may lie a potential whistleblower action – because the government is being defrauded.

The key here to whether or not you have a whistleblower claim is if the government is involved. If the same health care professionals are also over billing private insurance companies, this is unethical, but not a whistleblower claim. As you can see the main point to consider in actions like this deal with whether or not someone is intentionally ripping off the government.

Both the federal and the state laws outline that the person who blows the whistle gets a portion of whatever penalty the defendant winds up paying the government. In many cases the percentage may range from 15% to 25% for cases settled under the federal act and about 10% to 30% for cases settled under the state statute.

Many people are afraid to blow the whistle as they are certain there will be some serious retaliation. Both the whistleblower acts have provisions protecting the person reporting fraud and if the individual subsequently gets suspended, demoted, fired, harassed or threatened, they may apply for relief under the statute.

The main thing to note is that if you are intending to file a case like this under the Federal False Claims act, we strongly recommend you do so with legal representation. Qui tam cases are not easy and their complexity will ensure a long legal battle in the courts. Only Chicago whistleblower protection lawyers with this kind of experience will be able to handle these cases.

In both federal and state cases, the attorney first serves the government with the complaint in the event the government wishes to pursue the case itself. If it doesn’t want to get involved in the action, the case falls to the whistleblower and the Chicago employee whistleblower attorney to take the case to court on behalf of the government.

The Coffey Law Office attorneys will work on a contingency basis and recover a percentage if the case is won. If the case is lost, the attorney receives nothing. This may vary with some qui tam attorneys, and it’s best to ask how they do their billing up front.

At The Coffey Law Office we take the time to listen to your concerns, ask for all the pertinent details and then we operate on an investigate, evaluate and negotiate basis. This means that The Coffey Law Office will only charge a one-time, non-refundable fee for assessing the merits of your case.

The fee is based on your financial ability to pay and the extent of the work required in determining if the case is meritorious. This does not necessarily mean that The Coffey Law Office will litigate your case, but it will definitely let you know your legal rights and whether or not you do indeed have grounds to proceed to litigation.

Chicago Employee Whistleblower Protection Lawyer

At The Coffey Law Firm we value our clients and deal with them in a no nonsense straightforward manner. We tell them what they need to know to make informed decisions, not what they want to hear. Call us today for some straight talk about your case. We won’t keep you in the dark and promise you the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but we will let you know where you stand legally.