Car accidents – even minor ones – can be traumatic. But in many cases, they also teach you lessons that help make you a safer driver, or at least how to better handle an accident when it happens. Here are four things that I learned from my car accident.

1. You Should Get Checked by the Paramedics – No Matter What

Accident injuries are common than you think. According to Strom & Associates, two million people were injured in car accidents in 2010. And sometimes, those injuries aren't always obvious.

Always get checked by the paramedics – even if you don't think anything is wrong. Many people go into a state of shock after an accident. When you're in that state, your body doesn’t register pain. It's in survival mode.

You may not realize the true extent of your injuries until days later. By then, the injuries may have gotten progressively worse.

I hit my head on the steering wheel and my knees crunched into the dashboard underneath the wheel. But I was in a state of shock and didn't realize the extent of my injuries. Days later, the doctor told me what was really going on, and it wasn't pretty.

If I had sought a personal injury claim, the fact that I didn't see a doctor right away would have hurt my chances of success.

2. You Should Know Your Insurance Policy and Your Rights

Every driver should know the details of their insurance policy and their rights.

As for your insurance policy, you should know:

  • The policy number
  • Insurance company
  • Whether you have roadside assistance

A few things you should know about your rights:

  • Police officers must have a warrant to search your phone.
  • You have a right to deny medical care, and you also have the right to change your mind after the shock has worn off.

Some other things you should know:

  • Always travel with your driver's license, auto insurance card and medical insurance card.
  • Keep emergency contacts in your phone and save them as favorites.
  • If you're not seriously injured or in immediate danger, stay in your car.

3. Don't Ever Say Anything That's Unnecessary

Don't admit to fault, and don't say anything that's unnecessary. Don't contribute to speculation or say anything that can be used against you in any way.

I always give people the benefit of the doubt and believe that most people have good intentions, but there is always a chance that your words will be used against you – even if the accident wasn't your fault.

4. Witnesses Will Help Your Case

Witnesses can really help your case. There's a lot going on around you – during and after an accident. It's easy to feel overwhelmed and to lose track of some things that happened.

Eyewitnesses often remember details that accident victims forget. Humans are storytellers by nature. The more details we have, the better the story. In my experience, witnesses tell the truth because they have nothing to gain by telling lies.

Gather the contact information of any witnesses at the scene, and use their accounts of the events to help your case.