The company cannot be held liable if the driver got involved in an accident during his or her personal hours even if he or she is driving the company car. Vicarious liability, or the principle which states that the employer can be held responsible for the actions or omissions of the employee, only applies when the actions of the employee which led to the accident happened during the performance of his or her work duties.
In situations where it is unclear whether or not an employee is acting in the course of his or her employment, the courts determine liability by asking whether or not the employee was on “frolic” or “detour” when the accident happened.
Detour refers to a minor deviation in the employee’s actions that can still be considered as part of his work duties, for instance, when the company driver made a detour to get some gas and got into an accident on the way. In this case, the doctrine of vicarious liability would still apply; the employer can still be held liable.
On the other hand, frolic occurs when the employee deviated significantly from his work duties that the employer is exonerated from liability. For instance, if the company driver used the car after work to pick up his or her son from school and got into an accident, the company is absolved of liability. The question of “frolic vs. detour” applies regardless of who is at fault for the accident.
If you have been involved in an accident where vicarious liability is a potential issue, it would be best to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney for guidance.