Expectations of Whistleblower Rewards

The origins of whistleblower law can actually be traced back to to the False Claims Act. Congress enacted the False Claims Act initially in 1863 and reinvigorated it when they amended it in 1986. The purpose of the False Claims Act was to provide an incentive to fight fraud, and largely because of the success of this provision, that is always a contentious issue.

Another issue that sometimes occurs is that sometimes individuals may not have realistic expectations of whistleblower rewards, or may not have any expectations at all. An experienced whistleblower lawyer could inform an individual of their rights and what kind of rewards they could expect to gain after filing a claim.

How Much Can Someone Make in a Case?

The answer to how much anyone can make in a case is dependent on many factors, but the most important factors to consider are the law and the type of case a person is filing. If an individual is filing a False Claims Act case, the federal law sets the percentages that a person can collect as between 15% and 30% of whatever the government recovers in an action. It is worth noting that there is no cap on the amount of money to be made for somebody who wishes to defraud the United States or defraud another individual or business.

The government’s recovery potentially includes treble damages as well as civil fines. A recovery for the government can be very large, but an individual’s recovery is set as a percentage of whatever the government recovers. A skilled attorney could answer further questions and help set realistic expectations of whistleblower rewards.

Impact That the Value of a Case Can Have on the Reward

An individual’s expectations of whistleblower rewards, ie how much they can expect to recover, very much depends on the kind of case that one brings. It also depends on the facts of the case and the damages involved. There is no set minimum under the law to recover anything under the False Claims Act. Nor is there a maximum. One has to have some level of success in the pursuit of a claim, but there is nothing that limits the collection other than the size of the case itself.

Percentage a Whistleblower Can Expect to Recover

The award provisions for whistleblowers are meant to be an incentive to report fraud. The percentages have a big range depending upon the procedure of the case. If the government intervenes in or settles the case itself, the False Claims Act relator can obtain between 15% and 25% of any award. If however, the government does not intervene in the case and a False Claims Act relator pursues the matter on their own, the percentage goes to between 25% and 30%.

It is unusual for the full amount of such percentages to be awarded. Relators, counsel and the Justice Department do argue about these issues. The Justice Department has its own internal factors as to why they propose a certain percentage. That is a potential point of contention between plaintiffs and the Justice Department with respect to what an award would be.

The Range of Percentage Award

Similarly, state False Claims Acts have a range of percentage award. If an individual brings a case under a state law, there are similar provisions as to percentages. There are also potentially awards to be made for retaliation claims within a False Claims Act. Those damages are damages directly suffered by a whistleblower. They include two times the back pay for the lost wages, reinstatement damages and other special damages. Those damages are different and accrue directly to the whistleblower and of course, are limited by the actual damages suffered by the whistleblower.

SEC and IRS Range of Percentage Awards

There are other whistleblower reward laws that work on similar principles in terms of a reward based on a percentage of the amount collected by the government.  There are different ranges for example  10% to 30% of the money obtained by the government either through an action under the SEC whistleblower program is generally available for an award while the range is 15%-30% under the IRS whistleblower program. Although the SEC’s award money is distributed through a fund provided by Congress as opposed to taking money directly from the award, it is still figured on this basis. If an individual wants to know more about range of percentage awards or wants to discuss their expectations of whistleblower rewards, they should consult a knowledgeable whistleblower lawyer who can help.