Abstract Introduction/background Traffic accidents constitute a common reason for injury. Little is known about long-term outcomes for patients following a traffic accident. Therefore, in this present paper, we examine 1-day, 30-day and 1-year mortality, and return to work (RTW) during a 1-year period. Methods Patients (between 18 and 65 years of age) who had an ambulance dispatched to them following a traffic accident and who were employed prior to the accident were identified from the Electronic Prehospital Emergency Patient (amPHI™) database in the North Denmark Region (catchment population ≈600,000) during 2006–2014. Outcomes of 1- and 30- and 365-day mortality and 1-year return to work (RTW), with mortality as competing risk. We stratified by intensive care unit (ICU) admission; and the anatomical region of injury (head/neck, thorax, abdomen, extremities and multiple injuries) is reported. Results Of 6072 patients in our study population, 59 (1%) died within 1 day and 76 (1.3%) within 30 days; 88 (1.5%) were dead within a year. Thirty-day mortality was 1.7% for the 290 patients admitted to the ICU, and 1.2% for the remaining 5782 patients. Within the study population, RTW rate was 92.7% (N = 5984). RTW was 84.8% among 290 ICU-admitted patients versus 93.1% for the remaining 5782 patients. RTW rate was 94.6% for the 1793 patients discharged with a diagnosis of head/neck injury. Of 671 patients with a discharge diagnosis for the thoracic region, 92.6% returned to work. Of 402 patients with abdominal injury diagnoses, 90.8% returned to work. Of 1603 patients discharged with a diagnosis of extremity injury, the RTW rate was 93.6%. Of 192 patients with a discharge diagnosis of injury in multiple regions, 91.7% returned to work. Conclusion Overall, mortality rates were low and RTW rates high in patients who had an ambulance dispatched due to a traffic accident. Those admitted to the ICU had the lowest RTW rate, yet still around 80% returned to work.