Legal Definitions – U
U-Visa – A type of nonimmigrant visa given to victims of certain crimes, such as extortion or sexual exploitation, the right to remain and work in the United States for up to four years.
Ultrahazardous Activity – Any act that is so inherently dangerous that the person performing it can be held liable for injuries to other persons, even if they took every reasonable step to prevent the injury.
Unclaimed Property – Any property for which there has been no activity generated by the account owner for a prolonged period of time.
Unclean Hands Doctrine – A defense to a claim for equitable relief, typically an injunction or specific performance, in which it is asserted that the plaintiff has no grounds to obtain relief because he has acted unethically or in bad faith with respect to the subject of the complaint. This is also known as the "clean hands doctrine."
Uncontested Divorce – A divorce proceeding in which there are no disputes on either side regarding major legal issues in the case.
Underground Water Right – The right that a landowner possesses to use the water that is underneath their property. These rights vary from state to state, but many states follow one of four rules: absolute ownership, appropriation, reasonable use, and correlative rights.
Undocumented Immigrant – A person who has traveled to the United States without the proper documentation, such as a travel visa, passport, green card, or other important papers.
Undue Influence – A situation in which someone who shares a close or special relationship with the victim uses that trust to persuade them into signing (or not signing) a contract or testamentary instrument.
Unemployment Insurance – A program that provides workers who lost their jobs with a weekly income during times of unemployment. The program is run and funded by both state and federal taxes paid by employers.
Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act (UCSPA) – A model act created by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners to provide guidance for states wishing to protect consumers and regulate insurance carriers. The model act has been adopted in most states.
Unfair Competition – Any fraudulent, deceptive, or dishonest trade practice that is used to gain an advantage over one’s competitors in the marketplace.
Unfair Termination – The firing of an employee for unjust reasons, such as retaliation or discrimination.
Unfair Wages – Wages that do not meet the basic wage requirements set forth by wage laws, such as being lower than the minimum wage.
Uniform Commercial Code – A comprehensive model code that provides rules governing most aspects of commercial law and the conduct of merchants. It has been adopted by almost every state in the United States in its entirety.
Uniform Franchise Offering Circular (UFOC) – A disclosure document, full of important information about the actual reality of owning a franchise, that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires franchisors to give potential franchisees before granting a franchise. It is now more commonly referred to as a Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD).
Uniform Gifts to Minors Act (UGMA) – An act in some states that permits certain kinds of assets to be held in a custodian’s name for the benefit of a minor without placing it in a formal trust.
Uniform Parentage Act (UPA) – A model law that provides different ways to determine the legal parentage of a child. It has been adopted by many states.
Uniform Probate Code (UPC) – A body of model laws that govern wills and estates. Many states have adopted it.
Uniform Trust Code (UTC) – A model code that covers the creation, editing, validity, and enforcement of trusts, as well as the resolving of trust disputes. It is is used by some states to create uniformity in their body of trust laws.
Unilateral Contract – A contract wherein the offeror bargains for a completed performance rather than a promise to perform.
Unilateral Mistake in a Contract – An error in the meaning of words, laws, or facts made by one party that causes the party to enter into the contract without fully understanding the outcomes or responsibilities implied by the contract.
Unincorporated Nonprofit Association (UNA) – An organization created where two or more people join together by mutual consent to pursue a common nonprofit purpose. It is similar to a general partnership in the business world.
Uninsured Driver Laws – Laws that some states have that prohibit drivers from not having insurance while driving.
Union Labor Laws – Laws that govern the interactions between unions and employers. They are often designed to equalize the bargaining power between employees and employers.
United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) – A nonprofit corporation responsible for drug testing for the Olympic Movement in the United States.
United States Department of Labor – A department of the federal government that seeks improvements and advancements in work related conditions, welfare, and benefits.
Unjust Enrichment – A situation in which one person receives a benefit at the expense of another without compensating that person for the benefit.
Unlawful Detainer – A legal action filed by a landlord to evict a tenant who is in possession of real property without a legal right to remove the tenant and obtain compensation for the tenant’s unlawful use of the property.
Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 – A federal law that criminalizes the acceptance of funds from bettors by operators of most online gambling websites. However, it does not make it illegal for a player to make bets or wagers.
Upside-Down Mortgage – A situation in which the asset that is used for securing the mortgage loan is less than the remaining balance on the loan. This is also referred to as "negative equity" or "being underwater."
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) – The federal agency that processes all visa and citizenship applications, decides whether or not to grant the applications, and adjudicates decisions in regards to various claims and petitions. Its predecessor was the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).
Usury – The practice of lending money at an exorbitantly high interest rate. There are several federal and state laws that have criminalized this practice.