What is the statute of limitations for a whistleblower lawsuit?

If you have knowledge of fraud against the government and are considering blowing the whistle, it is important to be aware that whistleblowers have a limited amount of time in which to file a lawsuit. Failure to take action within the specified time limit—known as the statute of limitations—could result in you losing your right to receive a financial reward for reporting the fraud.

In general, the statute of limitations for filing a qui tam lawsuit is six years after the date on which the false claim was made; however, there are certain exceptions, which are outlined below.

Statute of Limitations for Qui Tam Lawsuits

In general, a whistleblowers taking action under the qui tam provision of the False Claims Act must file their lawsuit within:

  • Six years after the date on which the false claim was made
  • Three years after the appropriate federal official was notified of the potentially fraudulent activity
  • No more than 10 years after the alleged fraud took place

Can the Statute of Limitations for False Claims Acts Ever be Extended?

The Wartime Suspension of Limitations Act tolls the statute of limitations when the country is at war. Tolling of the statute of limitations means that the clock stops running with regard to the time limits in which a whistleblower lawsuit may be filed. This suspension of the statute of limitations does not only apply to cases involving Department of Defense fraud, but potentially to all other types of whistleblower lawsuits.

Because of the Wartime Suspension of Limitations Act, courts have ruled that the statute of limitations for whistleblower claims has been tolled since 2002 when Congress authorized military actions in Iraq. Under this interpretation of the law, if you have knowledge of a scheme to submit false claims to the federal government, you may be entitled to collect a financial reward for information pertaining to any fraudulent conduct that occurred as far back as October 16, 2002, the date Congress passed the Iraq War Resolution.

Because violating a statute of limitations can result in the loss of your rights as a whistleblower—and since statutes of limitations for different violations vary—it is important that you speak with an attorney as soon as possible about your case.