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How awards are calculated in a qui tam action

A qui tam action happens when a whistleblower reports that a company or individual has violated a government regulation or law while working on a government contract. A whistleblower in Connecticut, New York or other states may be eligible to receive a substantial amount of money.

The False Claims Act is supposed to protect against fraudulent acts involving taxpayer money. If the federal government is involved in the case, the liability will be a penalty and three times the damages that the government sustained. This liability will be only twice as much if there is full cooperation, including releasing all information within 30 days of discovering the action. The additional penalty is $5,000 to $10,000 per false claim.

There are guidelines for determining how much of this amount the whistleblower receives. If the government is involved and the information came out in a public forum, it's 10% or less. It's 15% to 25% in other cases in which the government participated and 25% to 30% if the government was not involved. The person who committed the wrong action in the first place may also bring the qui tam action but may receive less money. If the government is not involved in the qui tam action, the defendant has to pay the expenses in a successful suit.

Railway workers who have witnessed illegal behavior or been injured may want to contact an attorney to pursue a lawsuit. Legal counsel could explain the worker's rights and how to proceed. It is important to follow procedure carefully in order to be eligible for the award. An attorney might also be able to help if the whistleblower has faced retaliation after reporting a violation.

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