When reading the news about e.g. "vier Personen wurden bei dem Unfall tödlich verletzt" it seems to always mean that these four people were actually killed in the accident. I'm wondering about the phrasing as "tödlich" AFAIK means that something is potentially lethal, but not necessarily. So wouldn't it be more accurate if the news were saying "vier Personen wurden bei dem Unfall getötet" instead? Or is "tödlich verletzt" simply a more sensitive expression for "getötet" (at the cost of accuracy)?
For me the phrase "tödlich verletzt" is not the same as "getötet". For example if a plane crashes a native speaker wouldn't say "tödlich verletzt".
Here a news article. The relevant part is here:
... Nacht auf Mittwoch alle 176 an Bord befindlichen Personen getötet.
"Tödlich verletzt" often means killed due to the injuries but the time when the person really died is not defined as opposed to the plane crash.
It might be in the hospital, it might be on the crash site (before the doctor arrived), or it might be in the crash itself.