Danny, unfortunately, you're going to lose as a cyclist in any impact with a 2,000 pound (plus) motorized vehicle. I doubt there is any protective gear that is going to change that fundamental truth. If you add elbow pads, you'll face plant on your nose. Wear a face shield, you'll land on your shoulder, etc., etc. The initial finding that helmets protect your heat have never been replicated in any good scientific study (you note that your elbow took the impact in your crash).
So what to do? First, learn to ride safely. Read John Allen's Street Smarts http://www.bikexprt.com/streetsmarts/index.htm
, John Forester's Effective Cycling https://www.amazon.com/Effective-Cycling-Press-John-Forester/dp/0262516942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1486310645&sr=1-1&keywords=effective+cycling
, Bicyclesafe.com, or sign up for a class.
Second, make sure you're visible. It's hard in this age of distracted drivers, but brightly colored clothing is one good start (in addition to the proper road positioning you learned in step 1). Bright green shows up better than black or dark gray, unless you're surrounded by new deciduous tree leaves in early spring. In dark (overcast or night) conditions, or fog, lights are your friend. Lights plus reflectors give you a chance at being at night; many of us find we get more space and respect at night with a good set of lights.
Finally, and most important, stay alert while riding. You'll soon develop a feel for how most people drive. Driver glances left (in the U.S.), stares right, and keeps inching forward? She didn't see you and is about to pull out in front of you. Pickup coming at you and is weaving a lot? He's drunk or texting, get ready to dive for the ditch. Use that developing feel for traffic to stay safe.