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)?

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    Ist das eine Frage, ob die Begriffe synonym sind - die Überschrift klingt so - (jmd. mit Gift töten wäre eine Form, bei der man m.E. nicht "tödlich verletzt" sagt) oder ist es eine Frage nach Implikation - so klingt der Text? Wenn einige der Unfallopfer erst auf dem Weg ins Krankenhaus starben oder im Krankenhaus 3 Wochen später an den Folgen der Verletzung, dann wurden sie beim Unfall tödlich verletzt aber nicht getötet. – user unknown Jan 15 at 13:05
  • Ja, ich wollte wissen ob die Begriffe, vor allem von der Presse, synonym verwendet werden, bzw. falls sie nicht synonym sind, was der Unterschied ist. Der zeitliche Aspekt kam mir dabei bisher nicht in den Sinn. – sschuberth Jan 15 at 13:09
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    "tödlich verletzt" means fatally injured. "getötet" means killed. – tmlen Jan 15 at 21:23
  • That was my understanding so far as well, where "fatally injured" to me means that the person is not (necessarily) dead. But Germans news use the term "tödlich verletzt" to describe that a person has died as a consequence of the injury caused by an accident. – sschuberth Jan 15 at 21:26
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    there might be a difference in time: at the time someone was "getötet", they were dead. at the time someone was "tödlich verletzt", they might have been still alive, but died later. – tmlen Jan 15 at 21:34

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.

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    I disagree with "is not defined" and "it might be in the crash itself". Because it means "got injured and died due to the injuries after the accident" - so the lethal action was not the accident but the nonfixing of the injuries in time (or even the impossibility to fix them) - so you survive the injury causing action but not the injuries – Shegit Brahm Jan 15 at 13:42
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    The BFU (Bundesstelle für Flugunfalluntersuchung) defines tödlich verletzt as: died within 30 days after the accident, because of the injuries – mtwde Jan 15 at 13:52
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    @ShegitBrahm look at this news article. 18 meters freefall head first. There were no injuries... – Vulcano Jan 15 at 14:21
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    I would translate tödlich verletzt to 'mortally wounded'. – Naytzyrhc Jan 16 at 0:47
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    I totally agree The phrase "tödlich verletzt" can be only used if somebody is dead at the moment when the phrase is used..But it remains open whether the person died immediately or some time later as a direct consequence of the injury. The boundary between "immediately killed" and "died some time later" is certainly blurred. However, if somebody survives, frequenty the word "schwer verletzt" or "schwerst verletzt" is used. – Paul Frost Jan 16 at 16:35

Yes, "tödlich verletzt" is more sensitive and typically used in context of accidents. It is an injury resulted in death. "getötet" is used in case of murder as replacement for "ermordet" in general linguistic usage.

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    So, what would be the German expression for a potentially lethal injury that did not result in death, i.e. someone barely survived? Is there a concise expression for that? – sschuberth Jan 15 at 12:08
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    @sschuberth - (sehr) schwer verletzt – mic Jan 15 at 12:13
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    lebensbedrohlich verletzt – chrisbergr Jan 15 at 12:14
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    @BenjaminBasmaci yes, you are right if you speak about the legal situation and the original intention of these words. But like you wrote, many people use these terms synonymously, that was what I meant. Focussed on the "living language" – chrisbergr Jan 15 at 12:42
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    Also lebensgefährlich verletzt. Also schwerstverletzt may be used, but the danger of death is no that obvious then (but also not excluded). – Christian Geiselmann Jan 15 at 12:43

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