Whistleblowing to expose healthcare fraud is a courageous act that reveals unlawful practices and protects patients from substandard care. However, to be effective, whistleblowers must follow a specific set of rules in a timely manner, including being the first to file a whistleblower claim.
In this article, we define what it means to be “first to file,” why it is important, especially for whistleblowers, and why working with a whistleblower attorney like DJO Whistleblower Law Group (DJO) can significantly impact your potential to earn a reward.
We will also outline the steps to take if you suspect fraud in your workplace. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of the benefits of reporting fraud early and how to do it correctly.
What Does it Mean to Be First to File?
After the 1993 case Tingley Systems v. Bay State HMO Management Inc. the term “first to file” became a way to describe the policy of federal courts to avoid rulings which may entrench upon the authority of sister courts.
According to the FCA, an “original source” is defined as an individual who “prior to a public disclosure under subsection (e)(4)(a), has voluntarily disclosed to the Government the information on which allegations or transactions in a claim are based.” This means that the first whistleblower to come forward with information about a potential healthcare fraud case has a significant advantage in terms of potentially earning a larger reward.
Furthermore, the first to file rule is a federal regulation that applies to all states, but some jurisdictions may be more strict on the rule than others. It is important to work with an experienced whistleblower attorney like DJO to ensure that you understand the nuances of the first-to-file rule and how it applies to your case.
As the first to file rule is a critical component of any successful whistleblower claim, it is essential to understand its legal definition and significance in the context of healthcare fraud cases.
Why Being First to File Matters
First and foremost, the urgency of being the first to file means that you can establish precedence in legal proceedings, giving you an advantage over any subsequent whistleblowers who may file similar claims.
Additionally, being the first to file can increase your chances of earning a whistleblower reward, as the FCA mandates that the first whistleblower to file a claim can potentially receive a larger share of the recovered damages than subsequent whistleblowers.
Moreover, filing a claim early is critical in cases of healthcare fraud, as such fraudulent practices can cost millions over time, and the damages can be severe and long-lasting. The longer it takes for a whistleblower to file a claim, the greater the potential for harmful effects on both patients and taxpayer-funded programs. By reporting fraud early on, whistleblowers can help ensure that patient care is not compromised, and taxpayer dollars are being appropriately used.
According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), as of February 2023, whistleblowers have helped recover over $72 billion in settlements and judgments under the FCA since 1986, highlighting the significant impact that whistleblowers can have on protecting patients and the healthcare industry.
Why You Should Work with a Whistleblower Attorney
Working with an experienced whistleblower attorney like DJO can also increase your chances of success and the amount of the reward you may receive. An attorney can provide essential guidance and representation throughout the entire legal process, including helping you navigate the complexities of the FCA and ensuring that all legal filings and proceedings are handled correctly.
Plus, working with an attorney can ensure that you are protected as they advocate for you throughout the entire legal process. Overall, working with an experienced attorney can significantly impact your potential to earn a reward and protect your rights throughout the entire whistleblower process.
How the Whistleblowing Process Works
DJO Whistleblower Law Group is here to help you every step of the way. If you have information that can help bring fraud to light, here’s how you can help expose it.
- Get Expert Guidance
As soon as you suspect fraud, let us know what you’re experiencing by scheduling a confidential and no-obligation meeting.
- Gather Information & Evidence
We’ll help you determine what you need to build your case.
- File a Claim
A whistleblower must file a qui tam complaint in court and submit it to the government. We’ll assist you in submitting all necessary paperwork.
The government will examine your evidence, review your documents and may also request additional documents relating to the alleged fraud.
- Stay Vigilant & Safe
After the government investigates, it will decide whether it wants to bring formal legal action against the accused. If the government does decide to intervene and take over the prosecution, the case will then proceed through the process of litigation or settlement.
- Earn a Significant Reward
Whistleblowers who bring original information to the government can be entitled to receive a share of the government’s recovery.
An individual who is an original source of information can sue for violations of the False Claims Act. If the government prosecutes, that individual can receive up to 25% of the total amount recovered.
Throughout the entire whistleblowing process, we’ll advocate for your rights and provide counsel for navigating the arduous but rewarding process of shedding light on fraud.
Take Action Today and Join the Fight Against Healthcare Fraud
In summary, reporting healthcare fraud is a heroic action that can come with significant benefits, especially if you are the “first to file” with a whistleblower attorney.
By filing early, whistleblowers can establish precedence, increase their chances of earning a reward, and protect patients and taxpayer-funded programs from potential harm.
If you suspect fraud is occurring in your organization, take your first step with us!
DJO is comprised of a highly experienced team of whistleblower experts, lawyers, and even former whistleblowers, who strive to deliver the highest monetary reward for brave individuals who have valuable information that can bring fraud to light.
If a whistleblower’s lawsuit is successful, the reward can be up to 25% of the funds recovered. The False Claims Act also offers whistleblowers protection against job retaliation or wrongful termination. If you have valuable information that can help expose fraud, we encourage you to speak to our experts. We will be there every step of the way to ensure you are safe and your information is confidential so you will have confidence knowing you’re doing the right thing.
authored by Christopher J. Piacentile
Director of Investigations DJO Whistleblower Law Group