Whistleblower lawsuit attorneys note the recent passage in the U.S. Senate of the Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act. The bill, which is awaiting a vote in the House of Representatives, is intended to provide protections to people who reveal dangerous products or practices in the automotive industry. In addition to protections, the bill provides incentives for whistleblowers to come forward by allowing them a share of money recovered by the government—potentially amounting to millions of dollars.
If you have information relating to an unsafe or illegal practice in the automotive or other industry, contact Attorney Group for information about your options. We offer free, no obligation and confidential consultations. We can help answer your questions, and if you have a case we can connect you with an affiliated whistleblower lawsuit attorney who can assist you through the legal process. The time to pursue a whistleblower claim is often limited, so contact us today.
What is a Whistleblower?
According to Wikipedia, a whistleblower is someone who:
[E]xposes misconduct, alleged dishonest or illegal activity occurring in an organization. The alleged misconduct may be classified in many ways; for example, a violation of a law, rule, regulation and/or a direct threat to public interest, such as fraud, health and safety violations, and corruption. Whistleblowers may make their allegations internally (for example, to other people within the accused organization) or externally (to regulators, law enforcement agencies, to the media or to groups concerned with the issues).
Whistleblowers often face reprisals for reporting wrongdoing by the organization that is the subject of the whistleblowing or by a party outside of the organization. When a whistleblower works for the organization, reprisal can mean the loss of a job or other financial hardships.
Because of the prevalence of reprisals against or intimidation of whistleblowers, a number of state and federal laws have been passed to protect individuals who choose to speak out against dangerous or illegal activities in their industry.
Navigating the laws applying to whistleblowers, as well as defending against retaliation, can be an intimidating process. Potential whistleblowers are encouraged to seek legal counsel for assistance.
Automotive Whistleblower Act Provides Protection and Incentives
According to an article published The Detroit Bureau:
The bill allows the U.S. transportation secretary discretion to award up to 30% of the total monetary penalties resulting from Department of Transportation or Justice Department enforcement actions that total more than $1 million. The bill covers employees or contractors of motor vehicle manufacturers, parts suppliers and dealerships.
In short, if an automaker is fined the current maximum of $35 million, the whistleblower could be awarded $10.5 million.
Potential whistleblowers should note that each case is different and the provision in the bill for compensation does not guarantee that a whistleblower will actually receive compensation in a particular case. Consult with an attorney for more information.
Modeled on similar whistleblower laws pertaining to individuals who report information to the Internal Revenue Service or the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Senate bill is also expected to protect whistleblowers from retaliation.
Sharp Increase in Vehicle Recalls Preceded Passage of Bill
The Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act has been passed in the wake of a steep surge in vehicle recalls during 2014-2015, including the Takata Airbag Recall and the GM Ignition Switch Recall. In 2014, a reported 52 million vehicles were recalled, the most ever. To date in 2015, numerous recalls have been announced affecting millions of vehicles.
Whereas laws and private rights of actions, such as automotive defect lawsuits, exist to punish automakers whose vehicles violate safety regulations, as well as to compensate individuals who are injured due to defective vehicles, the automotive whistleblower act is expected to expose unsafe and illegal practices before individuals are harmed or killed.
Your Time to Bring a Claim May be Limited. Contact Us Today.
If you are considering filing a whistleblower lawsuit, or if you have questions about the automotive whistleblower bill, contact Attorney Group today. We can help answer your questions in a free and confidential consultation, and if you want to pursue legal action we can connect you with an affiliate whistleblower lawsuit attorney who can further assist you. The time to bring claims is often limited, so contact us today.