California Workers' Comp: What Does "Permanent and Stationary" Mean?

Learn what happens in a workers’ comp case when your doctor says that your medical condition isn’t likely to get better.

By , Attorney · University of San Francisco School of Law
Updated by Aaron Hotfelder, J.D. · University of Missouri School of Law

If you've suffered a workplace injury and your doctor has stated they you're "permanent and stationary," you might be wondering what that means and how it will affect your workers' comp case.

Here's what you need to know.

"Permanent and Stationary" Meaning in California

A finding that you're "permanent and stationary" (P&S) means that, in your treating doctor's opinion, you've reached a point where your medical condition probably isn't going to improve.

You may also have heard the term maximal (or maximum) medical improvement (MMI), which means roughly the same thing as P&S. For purposes of California workers' comp, MMI means that your condition is stable and isn't likely to change substantially in the next year, with or without additional medical treatment.

If you're still receiving temporary disability benefits when you reach P&S status, those payments will generally stop at this point. At the same time, however, your doctor will decide if your injury has resulted in any lasting physical or mental limitations.

For example, if you can no longer do heavy lifting or overhead reaching, this should be noted in your doctor's report.

The report will then be "rated," using an established formula, to decide the extent of any permanent disability that you have (called a "permanent disability rating").

That rating is then plugged into various charts to determine the amount of permanent disability benefits that you're entitled to receive. (To learn more about how this works in your state, see our article on permanent disability benefits in California.)

Review the Doctor's Report

Because your doctor's medical report will determine the amount of benefits you're entitled to, you should read it carefully. Make sure the report accurately reflects your current condition, including any limitations that will affect your daily activities or your ability to work.

Notify your employer's insurance company right away (in writing) if you disagree with anything in the report. In California, if you object to your doctor's finding about any permanent limitations, the insurance company must give you a form for requesting an independent medical exam—unless you have an attorney, in which case your lawyer will arrange the evaluation.

An experienced workers' comp lawyer can also help resolve any other disputes about your medical condition and eligibility for benefits, including whether you'll need more medical treatment.

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