Qui tam claims and whistleblower claims offer the potential reward of a percentage of the damages that the government recovers. It’s important, then, to be able to estimate the amount of damages in a federal False Claims Act claim. The estimate is useful in estimating a possible percentage recovery. It is also useful in considering whether it’s practically wise to bring the claim. Some of the damage factors are:
- Is the claim large enough? Qui tam cases are time consuming and expensive. They also come with some personal risk. It’s not worth the claimant’s time nor the law firm’s time to bring small claims. It’s best to consult with a skilled qui tam/ whistleblower law firm to evaluate the potential damages and the potential costs. Defendant(s) are likely to contest the claim at every level.
- Consider the potential damages:
- Amount wrongfully taken – This is the starting point for damages. The defendant needs to make the government whole. Factors include the amount of the overcharge or the amount of the fraud. Sometimes the value is determined by the contract price; sometimes by the fair market value. In some cases the fraud isn’t easily quantifiable such as where the government/you claim the defendant gained some illegal advantage. A skilled lawyer and the government will work with various strategies to calculate the damages.
- Treble damages – Three times the amount of actual damage figure.
- Fines – $5,500 to $11,000 in fines for each wrongful act. Determining the exact number of wrongful acts can be hard. The exact amount of the fine is subject to the judge’s discretions. The severity of the wrong is often a key factor.
- Attorney fees – Many lawyers take qui tam cases on a contingency fee basis which means the lawyer gets paid only if they win or the case settles. But, if the government declines to intervene and the claimant loses the case, then the claimant may have to pay the defendant’s lawyer fees.
- Interest – Because False Claims Act can take years, the interest figures can be quite large.
- The defendant(s) have to be able to pay the damages. Defendants may file for bankruptcy. Defendants, even large ones, may not have much net worth to pay the claim. A skilled Qui Tam lawyer will help the claimant evaluate the defendants’ assets so a determination can be made as to the viability of collecting any judgment.
Why should claimants use skilled Qui Tam lawyers?
- To decide if a claim is financially viable
- To calculate the proper amount of damages
- To show the claim isn’t frivolous and/or subject to attorneys fees if the claim is defeated.
How Beglman, Orlow and Melletz Can Help
If you think you have a whistleblower claim or you have been retaliated against because you brought a whistleblower claim, contact the lawyers at Begelman & Orlow, P. C.. Our lawyers have over 115 years experience protecting your rights. Call us at 866-627-7052 now. We have offices in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.