The performance of coastal vertical seawalls in extreme weather events is studied numerically, aiming to provide guidance in designing and reassessing coastal structures with vertical wall. The extreme wave run-up and the pressure on the vertical seawall are investigated extensively. A time-domain higher-order boundary element method (HOBEM) is coupled with a mixed Eulerian-Lagrangian technique as a time marching technique. Focused wave groups are generated by a piston wave-maker in the numerical wave tank using a wave focusing technique for accurately reproducing extreme sea states. An acceleration-potential scheme is used to calculate the transient wave loads. Comparisons with experimental data show that the extended numerical model is able to accurately predict extreme wave run-ups and pressures on a vertical seawall. The effects of the wave spectrum bandwidth, the wall position and the wave nonlinearity on the wave run-up and the maximum wave load on the vertical seawall are investigated by doing parametric studies.