What is Georgia’s False Claims Act?
When you notice someone allegedly committing a crime, you’ll call the police to protect yourself, your family, and your community. If you’re in a situation where you need to let the government or a prosecutor know about an illegal action, you need a Georgia False Claims Act lawyer.
In this case, you’d be called a whistleblower, which is a good thing. It means you’re pointing out illegal or fraudulent acts committed by a person, company, or organization.
However, you’re scared about the repercussions. What if you lose your job and your employer sues you? You could lose everything you have.
Under the Georgia False Claims Act, you’re protected.
Why the False Claims Act Exists
The federal government came up with the original federal False Claims Act to prevent fraud against the government while making it easy and beneficial for citizens to report that fraud. A whistleblower case is also called a qui tam case, which comes from the Latin phrase “in total” and translates into “[he] who sues in this matter for the king as well as for himself.”
In federal cases, whistleblowers are awarded an average of between 15% and 30% of the total recovered amount. If the government is involved, there’s a good chance your award will be lowered.
As for the defendant, they will have to pay three times the amount of the government loss, as well as a $5,500 to $11,000 fine. The government may also reach a settlement with the defendant, which could be lower. The whistleblower’s award is taken out of the settlement amount and not the maximum penalty.
Let’s say your employer was committing workers’ compensation fraud and submitting false claims. They stole $10,000 from the government, which means they could owe $41,000, which is $30,000 (3x the amount stolen) + a $11,000 fine. But if they settle for $25,000, you might only get 15% to 30% of that, or $3,750 to $7,500.
No matter what the award is, it’s always advisable to report fraud when you see it occurring.
Details About the Georgia False Claims Act
Introduced in 2012, this is Georgia’s state version of the federal False Claims Act. It was designed to reduce fraud when companies knowingly file false claims to the state or local government or avoid obligations. The original intention of the Act was to reduce Medicaid fraud, but it has since been expanded to include all laws and obligations that individuals, organizations, and companies are supposed to fulfill.
Whether you’re an employee of a company, a member of an organization, or a neighbor who believes there has been wrongdoing, then you can let the appropriate government agency know.
No retaliation can occur. For instance, your employer cannot fire, demote, harass, threaten, or suspend you. If this does happen, then you would be entitled to the reinstatement of your position along with two times the amount of back pay you’re owed, interest on the back pay, plus money for damages because you were discriminated against.
The Act makes it so that you cannot be sued if you’re a whistleblower. And not only that, but there is an award incentive similar to the federal government’s.
Pursuing a Claim
If you want to pursue a claim under the Georgia False Claims Act, the first thing to do is find a whistleblower lawyer who can help. It’s best to seek out an attorney because they will know where you can file your claim.
If your employer, organization, or member of your community tries to retaliate against you – or they already have – then having an attorney on your side is going to be your best line of defense.
Finding a Whistleblower Lawyer
You may not understand why you should hire a whistleblower attorney. Aren’t they just going to take a commission out of your award? Why get a third party involved when you can simply file the claim yourself?
The truth is that these claims are difficult to navigate. You may not report the fraud to the right place and your claim might never get processed. You might not have the evidence you need for your claim. And above all else, you may not know how to get as high of a reward as possible.
A whistleblower lawyer has experience in all of these areas. They will work hard on your behalf, creating a plan with you on how you’ll report the fraud, as well as negotiate to get you a higher award.
Haug Law Group, who may have answers to your questions under their Personal Injury Legal Definitions and Terms page, has experience representing other whistleblowers under the Georgia False Claims Act and would be happy to sit down with you for a free consultation.