The amount of money you can expect as a whistleblower award if you’re a successful claimant will vary greatly depending on a variety of factors, so it is always wise to consult with an experienced whistleblower lawyer before you decide whether to commence a whistleblower lawsuit. In recent years billions of dollars have been recovered through mechanisms in various statutes like the False Claims Act (FCA), provisions of the SEC & CFTC whistleblower laws, IRS whistleblower laws and various other state remedies.
As a rule of thumb most of the statutes provide for from 15-30% as a whistleblower settlement award. Most cases need to be presented to the government first and they have a right under the statutes to intervene. If they do and the case is resolved exclusively though them expect an award on the lower end of the spectrum. If they decline and your resolve the matter through your whistleblower law firm, then expect towards the higher end of the spectrum. It’s not all bad news though if the government handles the case. In fact, generally the government will have a higher success rate than proceeding without them and the average settlement amount will spike, so the amount in terms of compensation for the relator may go up, even if the percentage is down.
There’s many other factors that may determine where you land on the whistleblower award scale. How long did you know about the fraud before reporting it? For example, if you were aware of Medicare Fraud in which overbilling, upcoding and kickbacks were happening for over thirty years and you’re just reporting it right after you retire that will be a negative factor, but still its better late than never! Did you profit from the fraud? Let’s say you work for a major pharmaceutical company and you’re aware of kickbacks, self dealing (Stark Law), overpromotion or efficacy issues with the drug, then as a participant or beneficiary in the scheme, you might have some exposure and you will need to do a thorough whistleblower consultation to go over the risks versus the rewards for proceeding. When you think about it though its better to be the first through the door even if you’ve participated in the fraud somewhat, since if someone else blows the whistle first you will be viewed in a less favorable light and lose the chance for any recovery under the first filed rule.
In recent years, hundreds of millions of dollars have gone to whistleblowers who have had the courage to blow the whistle on major schemes and fraud, and major frauds that may be lesser in value, but still matters that are worthy of bringing to the government’s attention. Also, the amount of incestuous fraud in Wall Street and the other financial platforms is extremely hard to dig into without the assistance of a whistleblower since everyone is often getting rich of the schemes and disincentivized to disclose the truth. In reality though, with SEC whistleblowers you may have tremendous leverage over the company with that information and there is a mechanism that with an SEC whistleblower lawyer you can potentially remain anonymous from start to finish and recover millions, if not tens of millions of dollars depending on the extent of the fraud.
The road is never as easy as it looks. Before you decide to file a whistleblower lawsuit, you should consult with a whistleblower lawyer about the chances of success, your range of recovery and what impact it could have on you. Most firms handle the matter on a contingency basis, which means the whistleblower law firm is only paid if it wins your case and can provide a free confidential qui tam consultation.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Brown, LLC for their insight into whistleblowers and the law.