The cause of death is the condition or sequence of conditions, e.g., injuries in road traffic fatalities (RTFs), that adversely acts on the human body to result in death. The cause of death usually differs from the cause of the traffic incident, which often involves some human behavioral factor (such as drinking and driving), vehicular problem (such as faulty braking system) or roadway or environmental condition (such as wet roadway during a rainstorm). A simple example of a typical cause of death that could apply to a driver who died when the car struck a tree is:

Intrathoracic hemorrhage Due to: Ruptured aorta Due to: Blunt force injury of the thorax Due to: Motor vehicle crash (This may be added here or in another section of the death certificate that describes how the injuries occurred.)

In essence, for RTFs, the cause of death is a medical description of the injury event, bodily trauma and related fatal derangements that caused the death.